Don't underestimate the power of a little distraction among pediatric surgical patients. According to a recent study, playing games on a tablet computer was even more effective in making them feel at ease before going into the OR than a dose of sedatives was.
Researchers randomly gave 108 patients between the ages of 1 and 11 either oral midazolam or an Apple iPad Mini loaded with age-appropriate games. Patients given the computer were encouraged to play games after leaving their parents, up until the time they were administered anesthesia. The midazolam group was given the drugs at least 15 minutes before undergoing anesthesia.
In their study, published in the journal Pediatric Anesthesia, the researchers note that the computer group showed significantly larger reductions in self-reported pre-op anxiety levels than the midazolam group did.
The computer group's parents were happier with the separation experience as well, something the researchers picked up on. Putting tablet technology into the hands of pre-op children "reduces perioperative anxiety, emergence delirium, and time-to-discharge and increases parental satisfaction when compared to midazolam in pediatric patients undergoing ambulatory surgery," they write.