Sick children often dealt more pain by hospital staff

Treatment sometimes worse than sickness where kids are concerned

Sick children often experience rough treatment at the hands of doctors, nurses and even their parents while being treated at hospital, a survey suggests.

The survey by Danske Patienter, the nation's largest patient organisation, states that children are often handled roughly by staff, even though less violent treatment methods are readily available. The survey estimated that one third of children treated at hospital suffer severe pain and as many as two thirds undergo painful procedures without being offered suitable pain relief.

The group is asking hospitals in the Capital Region to examine their practices.

“This situation can't be examined quickly enough,” Annette Wandel, policy head at Danske Patienter told Berlingske newspaper. “No one can bear to think that children are being treated using painful methods.”

Of the 15 large accident and emergency wards examined, 12 admitted to using physical restraint when performing painful procedures like suturing wounds on children. Some said that it happened “rarely”, while others said it was a daily occurrence.

The use of physical force is called ‘brutacaine’ among hospital staffers; a combination of the word ‘brutal’ with the suffix ‘caine’ often found at the end of many drug names. Although the practice is no longer considered an acceptable treatment method for children, the study found that its use remains widespread.

"We are more and more aware that it has an effect on children and were shocked and surprised to discover that there is so little focus on fighting the pain suffered by the children,” anaesthesiologist Michele Lefort Sønderskov, one of the researchers behind the study, told Berlingske.

READ MORE: Denmark spends less on hospitals than other OECD nations

A quest for uniformity
The study stated that little attention is given to whether children are in pain and that there is also a lack of knowledge and training in the techniques and methods that are designed to reduce and prevent pain in young patients.

“It is not a question of not caring, more a lack of knowledge,” said Sønderskov. “Adults can tell you where they hurt, but it is sometimes difficult to get clear signals from children.”

Political will is developing to establish a resource centre to study how to create optimal and uniform pain treatment protocols for children, rather than the widely varying methods found today.