Health Ministry considers youth pain procedures

Regulations coming on use of analgesics, special needles to reduce pain in children, babies undergoing medical procedures.

Baby in hospital birth yawn 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Baby in hospital birth yawn 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Health Ministry has agreed that within a year, it will issue regulations on the use of analgesics and other means such as specially thin needles to reduce pain in children and babies undergoing medical procedures.
Dr. Chezy Levy, outgoing head of the medical branch, told this to the Knesset Committee on Children’s Rights, which on Tuesday discussed this problem. Levy also said the ministry will take pains to internalize the practice of reducing such pain in hospitals and health fund clinics.
The issue was presented by National Council for the Child director Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, who said it has been proven that small children can feel intense pain that may have long-term emotional implications, even traumatic reactions.
The amount of pain suffered by children during medical procedures must be reduced to the very minimum, he said.
The committee received data from a survey conducted for the national council in 2008 by Dr. Yoram Ben- Yehuda, director of the pediatric emergency department at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Ben-Yehuda found that 30 percent of hospitals do not have rules requiring doctors and nurses to minimize pain from medical procedures on children and that 31.8% of doctors have not passed courses for carrying them out.
Dr. Ze’ev Horev, coordinator of pediatrics in the community for Clalit Health Services, said the number of painful tests and other procedures in children should be minimized only to what is necessary and not conducted according to the parents’ requests for them.
Ben-Yehuda said pain can leave harmful emotional effects at any age – even for the rest of one’s life – and that many hospitals do not handle these procedures properly.
But Kadman said he was not happy with the committee’s decision, announced by chairman MK Zevulun Orlev, because it allows another year to pass until regulations are formulated and issued.
Children, he said, will continue to suffer needlessly.
“There are local anesthetic creams to apply, very small needles and even trained medical clowns who can alleviate pain.”
Orlev demanded that reducing pain in children undergoing medical procedures should be included in the curriculu