It is always a challenge to distract a pediatric patient during procedures, especially the painful ones. Parents can become so distraut over the process, that they are not always helpful and can actually be asked to leave the room. Here are a few ideas to keep parents calm, in control, and involved with the procedures that are done at the bedside.
1. Parents must be informed of the procedure, the steps involved, and what the staff expects if the situation is not emergent and non-lifethreatening.
2. Age appropriate distractions must be at the bedside prior to starting the proceedure. Age appropriate explainations of what is to come also needs to be done before the start to mentally prepare the child for the event.
3. Infants respond to sugar-water on a pacifier before the start of a proceedure and during so keep it handy.
4. Toddlers respond to a parent and a favorite toy. Keep in mind that no matter what, restraining a toddler for lab work, xrays, and other proceedures that require the toddler to stay still causes some level of distress. This is where parents need to understand that the need for the proceedure outweights the tears.
5. Older children will usually hold still if they understand what is happening, if they can see mom or dad, and if a reward is offered for the conclusion of the proceedure. Here just keep in mind don't promise something if you can't keep it. Don't promise a food item if the child is on a restricted diet for example.
6. Teens respond better if they have a choice in the matter, for instance which arm for the IV, or what time for the bath. Teens also respond to guided imagery during painful procedures where an adult helps the teen to imagine a happy or favorite place. The teen then can mentally stay in that place during the procedure and is somewhat distracted. More on guided imagery can be found on the Internet or from you health care provider.
Doctors and nurses are very tuned into pain control and sedation for procedures done in the hospital setting. Parents need to know they can discuss this issue and be advocates for their child's situation. Procedures should be as pain free as possible and pain should be addressed frequently from your health care providers.
7. Last, but not least, remember music when thinking about distracting a pediatric patient. Ipods, CD players, and portable DVD players all are a feasible distraction for children undergoing pokes and prods from well meaning hospital staff.