Archive October 2018 XIX, No. 10

Ideas That Work: Whip Out Your Sharpie

Anesthesia Bag Art Deflates Kids' Fears

Seattle Children's Bellevue Clinic & Surgery Center
IN THE BAG Smiles are a guarantee when young patients see the characters Anisa Manion, MSN, CRNA, ARNP, draws on their anesthesia bags.

You might not consider yourself a Picasso, but drawing something as simple as a heart or smiley face on a child’s anesthesia bag can really put them at ease. With some practice and Google searching for those extra-large sparkly anime eyes, I can now draw many kid-friendly characters on our anesthesia bags, such as Disney’s Elsa, Star Wars’ Chewbacca and Pokémon’s Pikachu. I even did a special request for HeiHei the Rooster from Disney’s Moana movie.

My bag art lets me make that all-so-important connection with young patients as soon as they enter the department. Many kids come in wearing a shirt or carrying a backpack with a special character on it. I usually have an anesthesia bag in my collection to match and do my best to draw one up if I don’t. As soon as I show the child the special bag that we will be using during their time with us, they light up and their fears fade.

As we put children to sleep, I tell them to keep their eyes on the character on the “balloon” so they can see it “dance” as the bag expands and collapses. When I use a bag featuring Elsa, for example, I’ll direct the child’s attention to the bag and say something like, “Look at Elsa working to spread all of the magic around the room.” One 4-year-old boy woke up from his procedure calling out, “Balloon! Balloon!” We gave him the bag and he snuggled up with it and drifted into a peaceful post-operative nap. Of course, kids get to take the bags home as souvenirs.

Anisa Manion, MSN, CRNA, ARNP
Seattle (Wash.) Children’s
Bellevue Clinic & Surgery Center

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