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  1. Vykol, Victoria DNP, CRNP, NNP-BC
  2. Wilson, Janice DNP, CRNP, NNP-BC, C-ELBW, FAANP
  3. Goodwin, Jana PhD, RN, CNE


Background: Inconsistent pain management practices can have negative physiologic and neurodevelopmental consequences in the neonate. Low rates of oral sucrose use with comfort measures for pain management during minor painful procedures were identified at a level III neonatal intensive care unit. Underutilization of pain management resources occurs despite the availability of evidence-based pain management interventions.


Purpose: To improve consistency in the use of oral sucrose solution with comfort measures during peripheral intravenous catheter insertion attempts in the neonatal intensive care unit in patients greater than or equal to 32 0/7th weeks postmenstrual age.


Methods: Quality improvement methods were used to implement an evidence-based procedural pain algorithm for minor painful procedures and optimize pain management processes over a 15-week period in a 26-bed, level III neonatal intensive care unit.


Results: There was an increase in the average percentage of documented use of sucrose with comfort measures during peripheral intravenous catheter insertion attempts from 20% to 27%. There was a 41% increase in the average presence of a sucrose order indicated for procedural pain. There were improvements in staff knowledge of sucrose dosing and perceived behavior of staff after completing the education.


Implications for Practice and Research: Procedural pain management should be used as a quality indicator and guidelines should be established with the support of key stakeholders in neonatal intensive care settings. Future projects should address barriers related to workflow and accessibility of sucrose, include other common needlestick procedures, and expand the role of parent participation in pain management practices.


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