Tablet interaction, entertainment apps can ease pre-op stress for young patients

Playing with a tablet prior to surgery can minimize anxiety and reduce stress in young patients and speeds up surgical recovery time when compared with the traditional oral sedative given in such medical scenarios.

Mobile interactive tools in preoperative environments also helped with anxiety regarding parental separation and induction to anesthetics required for surgery, according to a study published recently by Samuel C. Seiden, a professor of pediatric anesthesiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"That whole process of leaving parents or having someone put a mask over your face can be a very traumatic experience," Seiden told Reuters Health. That's why we spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make this less anxiety-provoking for children."

Tablets also are playing a role in other areas of hospital operations. As FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported, iPads in use by a Pennsylvania health network are helping enhance emergency medical services for home-based patients while reducing emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Sutter Care at Home, which serves homebound patients across 23 counties in northern California, is using tablets to speed up turnaround time for medical documentation processes and providing caregivers access to new patient records away from the office.

The main focus of the Northwestern study was comparing tablet-based interactive distraction (TBID) with oral midazolam regarding pre-op surgery anxiety. The study involved 108 children, ages 1 through 11, who were randomly chosen to be provided the TBID--an iPad mini in this case--or the oral sedative. Those given the tablet played with the device right up until anesthesia was given, according to Reuters.

"We hypothesized that the TBID tool was not inferior to midazolam to reduce perioperative anxiety," the abstract stated.

Post-op, the children who played with the iPad had a shorter recovery room stay--87 minutes compared to 111 minutes for the orally sedated children.

"It used to be very common to give kids under 8 a sedating medication but now our default practice is, if the kid is over 4, we expect we can distract with a tablet," Seiden told Reuters Health.

For more information:
- read the study abstract
- read the Reuters article

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