DOHA: Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is developing a pain management team that will specialize in addressing acute and chronic pain in children and adolescents, especially those suffering from chronic or malignant diseases such as cancer.
The creation of the pain management team is part of a major initiative in partnership with the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Canada, which also involves holding the first Pediatric Pain Awareness Month in the Gulf region this November to raise awareness on pain in children. Six workshops have been held targeting 240 healthcare professionals involved in the care of children, and a symposium will be held on the 29th to conclude the event.
Dr. Mansour Ahmed Ali, Head of Pediatric Surgery at HMC said, "The specialized pain management team will ensure more effective management of pain in children and adolescents, and will consist of anesthetists and child life specialists as well as nurses and doctors. Having a proper pain management team to look after children can change their lives. It can help make their experience less unpleasant when they come to the hospital."
Dr. Ali explained that proper pain management is important in the development of a child's behavior and attitude, including how they react every time they come to the hospital for treatment. "Poorly managed pain leaves an unpleasant experience and psychological trauma on the child. It is also expensive and can cause a major drain on the country's healthcare system, because it can lead to prolonged hospitalization, multiple doctor visits, loss of school days and of physical activity, and disturbance of normal life."
For his part, Dr. Guy Petroz, Director of Anesthesia for SickKids International said, "Pain is still a major challenge for patients, societies, governments and healthcare professionals. Many studies have proven beyond doubt that pain is underdiagnosed and undermanaged in various patient populations including adults and children."
Dr. Petroz highlighted the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to providing effective pain management for children.
"The problem of underdiagnosed and undermanaged pain is more evident in children because of many myths and misunderstandings," said Dr. Soupramanien Sivagnanam, Chairperson of the Pediatric Pain Management Task Force, adding "For example, many people believe that small children, infants and newborn babies do not feel and process pain to the same degree as adults do. This belief is not only wrong but also harmful because it can prevent proper detection of the child's condition. Newborn babies and older children are fully capable of feeling and processing pain since birth."
Dr. Sivagnanam explained that the difficulty in assessing pain at a small age can be a barrier for proper pain management in children especially newborn babies, but this difficulty is readily manageable with proper education and training. For example, children as young as two years old can be taught to express their pain using age-appropriate language, he added.
"Almost all pain in children is manageable with existing technology, although this does not mean the complete elimination of pain in all children," Dr. Sivagnanam said.
A declaration issued in 2010 by the International Association for the Study of Pain - a worldwide professional forum for science, practice and education in the field of pain - states that access to pain management is a fundamental human right, and highlights the need to address inadequate pain management in most of the world. (QNA)