Safe and effective pain control after surgery for children and teens addressed by ACS and APSA

A new patient education brochure on the issue of safe opioid use and proper disposal of pills is among new resources released to educate parents when children and teens undergo surgery.


Newswise — CHICAGO (December 4, 2019):  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.” 

To view the resources visit: https://www.facs.org/education/patient-education/safe-pain-control/pediatric-pain-control .

The brochure can be viewed as a standalone publication here.

Note: ACS developed this patient education publication with an educational grant from Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Pacira). 

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* Gaither, JR, Shabanova, V, Lewventhal JM. National Trends in Pediatric Deaths From Prescription and Illicit Opioids, 1999-2016. JAMA Netw Op. 2018; 1(8):e186558. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.6558.

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About the American College of Surgeons The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

About the American Pediatric Surgical Association The American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA) is the nation's largest professional organization dedicated to the pediatric surgical specialty. APSA’s mission is to ensure optimal pediatric surgical care of patients and their families, promote excellence in the field and foster a vibrant and viable community of pediatric surgeons.

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