When it comes to needle procedures, parents may feel like they have no choice but to hold their child down. But did you know that holding your child during a needle procedure can be traumatic and have long-lasting effects? It’s important for clinicians not to hold children down and offer alternatives for a trauma-free experience.

Dr. Jody Thomas, a clinical psychologist, raises concern for the practice of holding down children during medical procedures and why it is a harmful and outdated practice. She argues that this approach causes medical trauma and can result in lifelong damage to a child’s relationship with healthcare providers.Jody identifies three main reasons why holding down children persists in medical settings: a lack of sufficient training, a natural tendency to continue doing things “the way they’ve always been done,” and persistent myths.

Jody argues there are several myths surrounding holding down children during medical procedures. First, she argues that holding a child down does not keep them safe during a medical procedure and can actually cause medical trauma. Second, she disputes the myth that children will not remember being held down, stating that medical trauma can persist into adulthood. Third, Jody dispels the idea that breastfeeding during a medical procedure is harmful to the child, arguing that it can actually be a powerful tool for managing pain.

Thankfully, there is another way to keep children safe and still during a medical procedure: comfort positioning.

Combined with distraction techniques, topical anesthetics, and deep breathing exercises, being physically comforted by a loved one can significantly help reduce anxiety and create a calmer patient. Jody offers a useful guide on her website for how to achieve comfort positioning.

It’s essential for you to prioritise the well-being of your young patients during needle procedures. By avoiding holding children down and utilizing alternative techniques, you can help create a trauma-free experience that promotes positive associations with healthcare.

Lastly… if the child has reached the point of no return (you’ll know this when you see it) then consider rescheduling the procedure and trying again later. Remember, a little bit of kindness goes a long way in building trust and comfort with your patients.

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