Parental administration of analgesic medication in children after a limb injury

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2007 Apr;23(4):223-6. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e31803f5adc.


Objective: To document parental administration of analgesic medication to children with pain from acute limb injury before coming to the emergency department (ED).

Methods: Research assistants interviewed parents of children 0 to 18 years old who presented to the ED with acute limb injury, asking about analgesic use before arriving to the ED. Parents were also asked for personal and demographic information. Parents who did not give pharmacological analgesia were asked why they decided not to administer medications. All parents were asked if they will administer analgesia in the future.

Results: A total of 72% of parents administered analgesia (pharmacological or others) to their children. Only 28% of the children received pharmacological analgesics before arriving to the ED. Child's mean age was higher for the group receiving medications, compared with those not receiving medications (99 +/- 50 vs 122 +/- 52 months, respectively; P = 0.005). The main parental concern about analgesic use was of potential masking of the clinical signs and symptoms before being seen by a physician.

Conclusions: Prehospital analgesic administration by parents is mainly nonpharmacological largely because of parental concern of interference with medical assessment or underestimating the child's pain. Parental concern of masking symptoms and parental perception of no pain in a child were significant factors in determining parental comfort level in using pharmacological analgesics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Arm Injuries*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergencies*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leg Injuries*
  • Ontario
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Parents*
  • Self Medication*


  • Analgesics