ER uses iPads as a distraction for children being treated

A trip to the ER can be a very stressful experience for children. To distract kids from painful medical procedures and to make the environment less scary, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., announced recently that their pediatric emergency department at Stanford Hospital & Clinics has added iPads with pre-loaded apps for movies, music, games and books to their treatment rooms.

At home, parents might have a hard time getting their kids' attention away from their electronic devices. However, in the ER, a child's fixation on an iPad screen is proving to be a good method of keeping their minds occupied and reducing the anxiety they may feel about being in a hospital setting.

"We use the iPads for distraction and for preparing kids for procedures and surgeries," Colette Case, director of Child & Family Life Services at Packard Children's Hospital, said according to the announcement. "The iPads are a great form of altered focus; the children can use their cognitive skills to focus their thoughts away from the painful or stressful event. The nice thing about the iPad is that it can be a game, it can be a book and it can also be music."

In addition, the iPads allow kids to go online, print documents, check their email or use Apple's FaceTime video-chatting app. Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford is a 311-bed facility that is annually ranked as one of the nation's best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, as well as the only Northern California children's hospital with specialty programs ranked in the U.S. News Top 10. Now, it may also be the first emergency department in the Bay Area to use iPads in this manner.

While Packard Children's Hospital might be taking the lead with iPads for kids in that region of the country, University of Chicago researchers this summer published a case study of children who successfully underwent painful procedures who did not require restraint or sedation, but rather, relied solely on distraction provided by the iPad.

"We are finding this device to be increasingly useful in the management of pain and anxiety in the pediatric emergency department," the study stated. "Nonpharmacologic distraction techniques have been shown to be a helpful adjunct in these situations and can decrease or even eliminate the need for restraint or sedation."

To learn more:
- read the announcement