Perioperative Care Must Be Adapted to Preschoolers' Needs

Developmentally based approach eases the trauma of preparing for surgery
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Perioperative care for preschoolers must take into account their stage of emotional and psychological development as well as their unique physical and medical needs, according to an article published in the August issue of AORN Journal.

Elaine Taylor, of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega, Ga., writes that when preparing children aged 3 to 6 years for surgery, use of equipment must take children's size into account, and perioperative nurses must be aware of specific physical and medical considerations, such as the potential presence of loose primary teeth. On a positive note, as language skills are usually developing rapidly at this stage, it is easier to assess pain levels than in younger children.

Using child development theories from Freud, Piaget and Erikson, the author examines the specific psychological and emotional stages that children go through at the preschool stage, and highlights the importance of minimizing caregivers' anxiety in order to best support young children.

"Without effective intervention, children and their caregivers can suffer psychological ill effects after surgery," the author writes. "Taking steps to provide family-centered, developmentally based care can make the difference between the perioperative process being perceived as an ordeal that is tolerated or making it an experience that sets the stage for a positive and healthy future."

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