The new Pediatric Sedation Program at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center is easing the anxiety of medical procedures and tests for its youngest patients. Ndidi Nwokorie, MD, FAAP, education and orientation specialist, Department of Pediatrics, states, “It’s very traumatic for children to have strangers hold them down for a procedure. Research shows that these experiences sometimes follow the child into adulthood and create a ‘white coat syndrome’ where they remain fearful of medical providers.”
The hospital rolled out the program gradually. “In the pilot program, we found that parents were very grateful and our outcomes were wonderful,” Dr. Nwokorie explains. “When we gave children in the emergency department anxiety-reducing medication ahead of time, they were high-fiving us at the end.”
The program was then extended to outpatient procedures, such as CT scans and imaging procedures. Dr. Nwokorie explains, “For example, some children experience recurring urinary tract infections and have to undergo a special imaging procedure.
Children have been told not to let strangers touch their private parts, so while performing this test is not painful, it can be traumatic. Sedation relieves their stress.”
The sedation team meets families in the ambulatory surgery center or Emergency Department. Timothy Dowd, MD, chairman of Anesthesia and director of Peri-operative Services, describes the process. “The anesthesiologist talks to them and gives the child his or her ‘happy medicine’ by nasal spray or pill. After the medication takes effect, typically 15 to 30 minutes later, staff takes the child to the procedure room.” Dr. Nwokorie adds, “We start with the lowest possible dose and never exceed the top of the range based on the child’s weight and medication tolerance. They’re under the eye of the sedation team at all times and we make sure the child is ready to separate from the parents.”
After the procedure, the child is monitored to assure the sedation medication is completely worn off and it’s safe for them to go home. “It’s a great program, and our patients love it,” Dr. Nwokorie concludes.
For a physician referral, please call 443-777-7900.
MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center
9000 Franklin Square Drive
Baltimore, MD 21237
MedStar Franklin Square Pediatrics
5009 Honeygo Center Drive
Perry Hall, Maryland 21128