Having parents present during their children's anesthesia inductions reduces stress for both and improves sedation outcomes, according to new research presented last week at the annual meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology.
The study involved 60 children scheduled for tonsillectomies at the Hospital de Sagunto in Spain. Half had a parent present during induction; the others were separated from their parents at the operating room door.
All the parents filled out questionnaires designed to gauge their baseline anxiety levels in the pre-op waiting room and again in the recovery area. Patients who handed over their children noted their anxiety levels during the separation, while parents who accompanied their children into the OR reported how they felt just before entering the room and during anesthesia induction. Meanwhile, an anesthesiologist assessed the children's anxiety levels at the same moments of care.
According to the researchers, stress levels were much lower in parents who stayed with their children, and each of them said they would repeat the experience. A majority of parents who were not with their children said they would have preferred to accompany them into the OR. Additionally, the researchers report that induction compliance and overall anesthesia quality were higher in cases involving parental accompaniment.
Lead researcher Alicia Sanchez, MD, came up with the idea for the study when she tried to soothe a young boy who was crying and hugging his mother at the operating room door, begging her to come with him. Dr. Sanchez looked at her team and asked Why not? They initiated inhalation anesthesia while the boy rested in his mother's arms. "The experience was great," says Dr. Sanchez.
Across the American surgical industry, views on the topic are split. Most facilities keep parents out of the OR, but some allow them to be present during the anesthesia phase of surgery.