Children's hospitals work to improve patient experience

To temper the discomfort and trauma that can result from the fear and pain of chronic health conditions, many hospitals have come up with innovative ways to help children get through the experience, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Making a procedure less scary and more relaxing for a child can lead to better outcomes," Susan DeVore, chief executive of the hospital purchasing alliance, Premier Inc., told the Journal. "But it is really about being the right thing to do."

Hospitals rely on the following strategies to make the experience easier for children:

  • Using dolls or puppets to act out anecdotes about recovery from illness;

  • Providing special devices that allow painless IV insertion;

  • Giving children pre-surgery tours of operating rooms to give them a better idea of what to expect; and

  • Offering diversions during medical tests, such as goggles that allow children to watch movies during an MRI.

Asheville, N.C.'s Mission Children's Hospital recently spent $60,000 to provide the children with the goggles, according to the article. Not only do they make the MRI experience less frightening for children, they also eliminate the need for sedation, saving time and money while reducing health risks, Bret Sleight, the hospital's director of pediatric radiology, told the Journal.

Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz., designates children's rooms as "safety zones," performing potentially frightening or painful procedures elsewhere, and uses a special device to administer numbing medication to painlessly insert IV needles, according to the article.

"We want to make sure they are well prepared, well distracted and that their pain is controlled completely," Cardon Chief Executive Rhonda Anderson said.

An August editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that more adult hospitals adopt the model used by pediatric hospitals, arguing that strategies used to reduce stress and be more patient-centered would improve outcomes and patient satisfaction among adults, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Journal article