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New Insights on Pediatric Pain Reduction

by Dennis Ernst • March 07, 2018

Shutterstock_286988390A certified child life specialist at the University of Michigan Health System's C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is shedding new light on an age-old problem: pediatric pain during blood draws. In an interview recently published by CAP Today, Julie Piazza, studied education, training, experience, and stress levels among phlebotomists who draw blood from pediatric patients. What she found was that the education phlebotomists receive on child development differs significantly from what the literature recommends for addressing children’s fears and anxieties.

Piazza used focus groups, surveys, and observation to assess the best use of distraction and other comfort techniques during pediatric phlebotomy. She found phlebotomists are uneasy with the extent to which their demanding workload impacts their ability to deliver a positive pediatric experience. They also expressed a lack of empathy from those who are more concerned with their productivity.

It came as no surprise to Piazza that 67 percent of phlebotomists surveyed expressed some level of stress during pediatric blood draws, including the perceived anxiety of the patient and the parent. Nearly all phlebotomists reported using comfort techniques that did not require additional supplies or equipment, including verbal reassurance and positioning pediatrics on the parent's lap. Distraction techniques were used by 60 percent of those involved in the study while 28 percent used topical anesthetics, sucrose, and the Buzzy device. Twenty-six percent called upon the support and assistance of a child life specialist.

  Blurred HTL Lancing Technique front_backEditor's Note: HTL-Strefa, a leading manufacturer in medical sharps, has produced an illustrated poster on best practices for finger capillary blood sampling. The HTL Lancing Technique poster is compiled from myriad resources including text books, public health organizations, clinician interviews, and consultations with the Center for Phlebotomy Education. For more information on how to obtain this process/poster, please contact Michael Billedo at [email protected]


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