For most children, getting an injection can be both painful and frightening. Now doctors at one Bay Area hospital have a new, tasty alternative. Pam Moore reports.
Little Arthur Bazaldua is in the hospital to have a mass removed from his arm. For most 7-year-olds it would be a scary time, but doctors at Lucille Packard Children's Health Services have something new to help soothe Arthur's anxiety.
It looks like a lollipop, and even tastes like one. It's raspberry flavor, but it's actually a powerful medication called Fentanyl Oralet.
"Fentanyl is a very powerful narcotic medication so we have to regulate the dose very carefully," say Dr. Greg Hammer, a pediatric anesthesiologist. "We certainly wouldn't want to give too much of the medication as it might depress breathing or cause nausea and vomiting."
The Fentanyl is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, gently sedating Arthur so that when it's time to leave his parents, he is calm and relaxed. Dr. Hammer says kids who are calm going into surgery generally do better.
"We are quite sure that children who have a traumatic separation from their parents and have to be restrained, for example, are at risk for having adverse memories and bad dreams, etcetera, after the procedure," says Dr. Hammer.
Dr. Hammer says Fentanyl is also being used instead of injections in some emergency rooms for children with bad cuts or broken bones. Its effects wear off quickly, reducing the risk of complications that stronger drugs might produce.
Doctors emphasize the lollipop is not candy, but for children like Arthur it does help sweeten a visit to the hospital.
Oh dear Lord, drug lollipops! The implications are vast, far-reaching, even! Never has candy tasted so sweet. Great for children's parties!