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Posted on December 10, 2013

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) in partnership with The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada (SickKids) has recently hosted the Second Pediatric Pain Awareness Symposium at HMC’s Medical Education Center. It featured lectures by HMC pediatric specialists and guest speakers from SickKids on pain management in children.

“Acknowledging pain makes pain visible and that is the fundamental first step in pain management,” Professor Anne Topping, Assistant Executive Director of Nursing Education at HMC,said in the opening remarks at the symposium. “We all experience pain and learn to cope with it, but in the case of children, the way they communicate their pain is very different and often challenging.” Professor Topping encouraged healthcare professionals at the event to familiarize themselves with the indicators of pain and know when to intervene to offer assistance to a child in pain.

The day-long symposium which was held on 28 November was attended by over 200 people.   This included clinical staff from HMC, special guests from Sidra Medical and Research Center and the Primary Health Care Corporation. The symposium was composed of three different learning sessions with speakers highlighting crucial aspects of pain management in children.

The first session shed light on the psychological and cultural aspects of pain management in children, the second on acute pain management in children, and the third on the management of chronic pain in children with special needs. Each session was followed by case discussions, giving health care practitioners at the event an opportunity to engage in discussions and seek expert advice about challenging real life situations which require the effective assessment and management of pain in children.

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“Culture has a detrimental influence on us,” Dr. Osama Al Gibali, Consultant Pediatric in Critical Care at HMC stressed at the symposium. He added that, “In some cultures it is considered very shameful for a child to cry from pain and in some the higher the tolerance the higher the respect that is earned as a man.” Healthcare providers should now feel responsible to offer care whilst keeping in mind the cultural component when dealing with children in pain,” Dr. Gibali further emphasized.

Other topics covered during the symposium were pain management in children following orthopedic surgery, pain in neonates, and the use of appropriate anesthesia to curb increasing pain. Recurrent emphasis was made on the use of physical, psychological and pharmacological pain management strategies to alleviate pain in children. Experts speaking at the event encouraged healthcare providers to communicate with the family of the child to ensure pain in the child is assessed and treated in the fastest and most effective way possible.

“Dealing with pain in children who are communicatively impaired and require medically complex care is challenging”, said Ms. Badriya Khalifa Al Shamari, Director of Nursing, Al Maha 1 and 2, HMC, who presented a talk on family-centered care in pediatric pain management in Al Maha, a unit for ventilated and non-ventilated mechanically ill patients from 3 months to 14 years of age.

“Most common indicators for the communicatively impaired children are facial redness and crying without tears. In some children it can be understood through eyebrow movement but these are only assessed by expert nurses dealing with the children on a daily basis,” Ms. Al Shamari said.

Among other speakers at the symposium were: Ms. Lorraine Bird, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Acute and Chronic Pain, SickKids; Dr. Abdulsalem Highazy, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Orthopaedic Sugery, HGH; Dr. Cengiz Karsli, Staff Anaesthologist, SickKids; Dr. Tejas Mehta, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, HGH; Ms. Jennifer Bassin, Child Life Specialist, SickKids; Dr. Abdellatif Hamdy Abdelwahab, Senior Consultant, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Women’s Hospital , and Dr. Mike Levis, Senior Consultant Pediatric Anaesthesia and Chair of the Pediatric Pain Task Force at HMC.

“Our program today highlighted Qatar’s capacity to keep up with global strategies for the management of pain in infants, children and adolescents,” said Dr. Mansour Ali, Chair of Pediatric Peri-operative Services and Senior Consultant, Pediatric Surgery at HMC. “It is clear that we have made strides forward to highlight pain awareness and we are beginning to demonstrate enhanced knowledge and attitudes towards the care of patients here at HMC with regards to pain.”