New Special Interest Group

Creating, Maintaining, and Supporting New Inpatient Pediatric Pain Services

By Alina Lazar, MD
Assistant Professor
Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care
The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital
Chicago, Illinois

Many of the reasons for inadequate pain control in hospitalized children relate to the lack of a defined acute pain service focused on children. Only 51% of hospitals treating children have a pediatric pain service. (1) Institutions where a dedicated pediatric acute pain service is not feasible and pain management is provided by well-established and effective adult pain services could benefit from an enhanced pediatric expertise and focus.

Dedicated pain services led by pediatric anesthesiologists (optimally with special interest and expertise in regional anesthesia), or general pain services with a strong pediatric presence can provide more comprehensive pain interventions. These services can start in the preoperative period with patient education, assistance in formulation of multimodal analgesic plans in the operating room, maintenance of direct and close communication with surgeons and colleagues from other pediatric disciplines, and utilization of the full spectrum of non-pharmacologic pain interventions for a truly multipronged, multidisciplinary approach to pediatric acute pain.

There is little published information on how to create and maintain a pediatric pain service, and even less practical first-hand knowledge available to the practitioner interested in developing one, or simply improving the care of hospitalized children experiencing acute pain. A newly created Special Interest Group (SIG) within the Society for Pediatric Pain Medicine strives to fill this gap. The overarching goal of this SIG is to promote effective and sustainable operational models of pediatric acute pain services adapted to individual institutional needs and resources, and to promote collaboration and mentorship between interested institutions. To put in a more granular way, the SIG is aiming to:

  • Educate and mentor practitioners in the technicalities of starting a pediatric acute pain service, with input from established experts within the SPPM.
  • Brainstorm solutions for improving pediatric acute pain management in situations where a formal dedicated pediatric pain service is not feasible.
  • Create up-to date resources to assist in the daily operations of a pain service.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for practitioners interested in acute pain.
  • Facilitate collaboration and information sharing between similar-profile institutions, and between established pediatric acute pain services and emerging ones.
  • Promote a focus on collaboration across multiple disciplines to ensure coverage of all aspects of acute pain.
  • Identify means to monitor the progress and success of new pediatric pain services and promote accountability.

We are looking forward to hearing from those interested in this SIG and welcome any suggestions and ideas.

Alina Lazar, MD
Assistant Professor
The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital
[email protected]


  1. Nelson KL, Yaster M, Kost-Byerly S, Monitto CL. A national survey of American Pediatric Anesthesiologists: patient-controlled analgesia and other intravenous opioid therapies in pediatric acute pain management. Anesth Analg. 2010 Mar 1;110(3):754-60.

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