Women's Health

Pain in children is often ignored. For children of color, it’s even worse.

Dr Cristina Gonzalez, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York who teaches doctors how to recognize and deal with their implicit biases, said she remembered a case from years ago when a young Hispanic patient entered the hospital complaining of severe pain. A staff member said: ‘I don’t think he’s really in pain. He was eventually diagnosed with a gallbladder infection, ‌Dr. Gonzalez said, but those doubts could have delayed his treatment and caused damage‌ that could have been life-threatening.

“Delaying care has important downstream health effects,” she said.

Experts stressed that it should not be up to patients to improve their own care. In recent years, researchers, hospitals and lawmakers have pushed to help healthcare providers become more aware of their biases — something everyone has — and change their behavior accordingly. But “these are things that take time,” Dr. Wyatt said. In the meantime, these strategies can help parents in the hospital:

Keep records. Write down your child’s medications, symptoms, and contact information for your pediatrician. Then give this information to the staff, which will help them more quickly assess the type of care your child needs. This is especially useful if your child has a chronic illness and takes medication regularly.

Get to know the hospital staff. Vanessa Finch, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, whose son Kahleeb Beckett died at 24 of a sickle cell crisis in hospital, said when Kahleeb was young she found ways to connect with people. hospital employees. “I volunteered. I worked with the social workers. I stayed in the faces of those doctors,” she said. “It makes a difference.” She found that when medical staff felt a more personal connection to her son, who was black, they were more empathetic to his pain.

Try to relieve your child’s anxiety. Studies show that anxiety and pain are intertwined, and some surprisingly simple tactics can help reduce anxiety and lessen the perception of pain. This might include asking your child to imagine a favorite place, listening to a guided imagery exercise, or providing distractions, such as music or a video. You can use these strategies while waiting for treatment.

Take deep breaths. “We know that parents’ distress over their child’s pain in the emergency room has a real impact on how their child experiences pain and how they respond to treatment,” said Emily Law, author of the recent study on the treatment of migraine in adolescents and associate professor of anesthesiology. and pain medicine at the University of Washington. So do what you can to stay calm, whether that’s taking deep breaths or walking out of the exam room to call a friend for help.

If necessary, file a complaint. If you think your child has not been treated appropriately, ask to speak to a hospital social worker or write a complaint to the hospital to hold them accountable.


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