Given the current rates of opioid abuse in the U.S, it is critical that surgical patients understand how to safely use these pain-relieving medications and properly dispose of these substances when no longer needed. Surgeons and other members of the surgical team also extend these concerns to children and teens since children may be prescribed opioids to control severe pain resulting from their operations.
Unfortunately, fatal poisonings from opioid overdoses are increasing among both children and teens.* Therefore, the pediatric surgical community has recently released patient education resources on the ACS website to inform parents and teens about safe pain control after surgery, and both surgical care organizations urge parents to use these resources to discuss this crucial issue with their child’s surgeon before surgery.
"In collaboration with the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the American College of Surgeons has created educational materials for children, their parents and professional care givers to improve pain management for children after surgery and provide the basis for improved recovery. These materials are critical reading for all who care for children after operations or injury,” said John M. Daly, MD, FACS, Co-chair, ACS Patient Education Committee.
The main resource is the Safe and Effective Pain Control After Surgery for Children and Teens brochure. This document was thoroughly researched using the best evidence available and developed as a resource for surgeons to address, with parents, appropriate pain management options for young surgical patients whose unique pain relief needs require careful attention. The brochure features a guide for parents and children/teens to help them decide when to take medications based on the types of activities performed in the days following an operation.
Additionally, to help young patients lower their risk of misuse and diversion of opioids to inappropriate persons, the proper use of these medications for severe pain as well as storage and disposal techniques are covered. The brochure also includes an insert that describes nonmedication therapies, commonly prescribed medications and their side effects, and a customizable, fillable form for patients to list their medications, doses, and times of administration following surgery.
“APSA is proud to have collaborated with the ACS on these important parent resources. Our care goes beyond the operating room to ensure pediatric patients are comfortable after surgery, and equally important, that we create a space where families are comfortable asking about and understanding pain medication use, options, and risks,” said APSA President, Joseph P. Vacanti, MD, FACS.
“It’s important that surgeons be attentive to all phases of a patient’s surgical care, including safe pain control and management. These new resources are a vital tool that will help surgeons work with parents to safeguard children’s care during the postsurgery phase and also provide a framework for a presurgery discussion between parents, young patients, and surgeons,” said ACS Executive Director, David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. “We’ve made these resources publicly available for free on our website so everyone who needs this information, has access to it. We encourage all to take advantage of it.”