Medical College of Wisconsin
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A preliminary report of parent/nurse-controlled analgesia (PNCA) in infants and preschoolers. Clin J Pain 2011 Feb;27(2):102-7



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BACKGROUND: infants and young children are often unable to verbalize pain or advocate for themselves which may increase their risk for poor pain assessment and management. Although patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) has been shown to be safe, effective, and superior to intermittent opioid dosing, infants and young children are not able to operate PCA independently. Allowing a parent or nurse to operate the PCA for the child [parent/nurse-controlled analgesia (PNCA)] may be an option for these children. However, the use of PNCA has been heavily scrutinized and more evidence of safety is needed to support this practice.

OBJECTIVES: the primary purpose of this study was to evaluate safety outcomes associated with PNCA for infants and preschool aged children. Secondary outcomes regarding the frequency of untoward side effects and clinical effectiveness were also examined.

METHODS: a retrospective review of treatment with PNCA was conducted from a convenience sample of charts for 107 infants and preschoolers. Data were collected for 72 hours or until the PNCA was discontinued.

RESULTS: one hundred and seven infants and preschoolers with a mean age of 19.6 months (±12.12) were represented in this study. Mean pain scores were low, as was the number of PNCA injections and attempts and amount of opioid administered. Common opioid side effects were reported. Naloxone was administered to 1.9% of patients for respiratory depression, and potential contributing factors were identified.

DISCUSSION: diligent monitoring and education are crucial to ensure safety. Untoward side effects adverse events and pain scores suggest PNCA may be an effective method of pain control for this patient population.

Author List

Czarnecki ML, Salamon KS, Jastrowski Mano KE, Ferrise AS, Sharp M, Weisman SJ


Steven J. Weisman MD Professor in the Anesthesiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Analgesia, Patient-Controlled
Analgesics, Opioid
Child, Preschool
Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
Infant, Newborn
Pilot Projects
Risk Assessment
Risk Factors
jenkins-FCD Prod-484 8aa07fc50b7f6d102f3dda2f4c7056ff84294d1d