Going to the emergency room can be frightening no matter your age. But for a child, the experience can be downright terrifying.
Children who present to the emergency department are often subjected to painful procedures to treat their injuries or illnesses. While such treatment is necessary and in some cases lifesaving, it is still difficult for parents, or loved ones of the child, to witness.
That is why the emergency department at INTEGRIS Health Edmond is announcing a pediatric pilot program designed to take some of the fear out of the emergency room by alleviating pain.
“The solution is simple really,” said Guy Peterson, D.O., the medical director of the INTEGRIS Health Edmond emergency department. “Earlier this year, we decided to start using nitrous oxide, or ‘laughing gas,’ on our younger patients, and the results have been even better than expected. Once you take away the pain, the child is more at ease and much more cooperative.”
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that can serve as a pain killer when inhaled. If a child’s pain is effectively managed his or her cooperation and anxiety will decrease, allowing the medical staff to complete procedures more quickly and successfully.
“Nitrous oxide is perfect for providing relief to a child undergoing a painful procedure for three main reasons: painless administration, rapid onset and quick recovery,” Peterson explained. “All the child has to do is take a few deep breaths while wearing a mask and they feel the effects within 30 to 60 seconds. Then, when inhalation ends, the patient stops feeling the effects of the medication within 1 to 2 minutes, without any residual effects.”
Peterson added, “There is also an amnestic effect of the medication, which helps to erase the memory of any painful portion of the procedure they have endured.”
The Donehue family of Edmond experienced the benefits of nitrous oxide firsthand when they took their youngest son Sutton, 4, to the INTEGRIS Health Edmond emergency room for stitches in August.
“Sutton was freaking out. We thought for sure we were going to have to physically hold him down to get the six stitches he needed,” remembers Sutton’s mother Kindall Donehue. “But once they put the nitrous oxide on him, he just started laughing. He giggled through the entire procedure which made everyone in the room start laughing. It was great.”
Donehue says it was a stark contrast from five years ago when their oldest son had to get stitches without nitrous oxide.
“I absolutely would recommend using nitrous oxide on little ones. We have three boys and since trips to the emergency room seem to be a rite of passage for boys, I’m sure we’ll be back — and we will be requesting nitrous oxide for sure.”