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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Apr 2020 - 24 Apr 2020

Human Studies

2020 Apr 18

J Burn Care Res

Pain Management for Pediatric Burns in the Outpatient Setting: A Changing Paradigm?


Shahi N, Meier M, Phillips R, Shirek G, Goldsmith A, Recicar J, Zuk J, Bielsky A, Yaster M, Moulton S
J Burn Care Res. 2020 Apr 18.
PMID: 32303748.


Childhood burns are common and distressing for children and their parents. Pain is the most common complaint and often thought to be undertreated, which can negatively influence the child's care and increase the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder. There is limited literature on the role of opioids and multimodal therapy in the treatment of pediatric outpatient burns. We sought to evaluate the current use of opioids (including the use of multimodal therapies), storage, and disposal of opioids in this patient population. Parents of burn-injured children 8 months to 18 years old, who were seen in an outpatient setting within 2 weeks of their burn injury, were queried from April to December 2019 regarding their child's pain control, opioid medication use, over-the-counter pain medication use, opioid storage, and disposal. A total of 142 parents of burn-injured children and their parents were surveyed. The median age of the burn-injured children was 2.7 years old and the majority (54.2%; 77/142) were male. The mean total body surface area (TBSA) was 1.8% and half sustained burn injuries to one or both hands. The most frequently used regimens for constant and/or breakthrough pain control were acetaminophen (62.7%) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs; 68.3%). Less than one fifth (26/142;18%) of patients were prescribed opioids and 88% filled their prescription. The median number of doses of opioids prescribed was eight doses, with a median of four doses of opioids unused. Only three patients used all of their prescribed opioids and no patient ≥12 years old used their entire prescription. Burns greater than 3% TBSA, irrespective of burn injury location, were associated with opioid prescription (P = .003). Approximately 40% (10/26) of parents who filled their child's opioid prescription stored the opioid in a locked area. Fewer than one third (7/26) of patients were educated on how to dispose of excess opioid pain medication. Overall, most pediatric outpatient burn injuries can be successfully managed with over-the-counter medications. Providers, who care for burn-injured children ≤ 12 years old with burns that cover ≥3% TBSA in the outpatient setting, should consider no more than four opioid doses for initial pain control. This guideline, coupled with family and provider-centered education on multimodal therapy at the time of initial presentation and safe use of opioids, are important first steps to minimizing the use of opioids in the management of small area burns in children.