Epworth Eastern lets kids ‘drive’ in the OT

Epworth Eastern allows children to

Epworth Eastern, Victoria, uses a remote-controlled four-wheel drive to put children at ease before surgery.

Young patients can often develop pre-surgical anxiety due to being in unfamiliar surroundings, surrounded by strangers wearing face masks, screens and surgical gowns. Preoperative anxiety has also been shown to increase postoperative confusion.

The idea of ​​taking the kids to the theater in Epworth Eastern’s 4×4 was the brainchild of clinical operating room nursing specialist Alex Allen. As part of her continuing professional development, Allen reviewed an overseas study aimed at reducing anxiety in children before surgery.

“The study involved three groups of children: one group entered the theater, the children in the second group were sedated before going to the theater, and the third group of children were taken to the theater in a remote control car,” Allen said.

“The study showed that children taken to the theater in the car had reduced levels of anxiety, comparable to those of sedated children.”

The OR staff have been trained to safely drive the remote control car, bringing the patient to the OR.

Allen said the car, complete with a custom EE Theater license plate, is already making a difference.

“Before we had our car, we used to notice that as soon as the kids came around the corner into the theater environment, they would cling to mom or dad while being faced with such an environment. unknown, many masked unknowns and many equipment.

“We are now noticing that kids are excitedly coming around the corner looking for the car, and then once in the car they even have the choice of playing their favorite song. It gives them a sense of control and serves them well. great distraction.

“Our patients were so excited to get in the car. One patient was still talking about it as he fell asleep in the operating room.

Five-year-old Aston Cook was the first patient to be driven to the theater in the new 4×4.

Associate Professor Dean White, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said Aston was incredibly relaxed when he arrived.

“Everyone involved comes together to ease the stress of the unfamiliar environment with games, talks and music, but it’s always a challenge. Our first patient, Aston, couldn’t get in fast enough. the operating room and jumped up on the operating table grinning from ear to ear. It even calmed mum down – a win all around,” White said.

Epworth Eastern executive managing director Kerry May said it was a big help in calming the smallest of patients. “We perform ear, nose and throat operations and minor plastic surgery on children at Epworth Eastern,” May said.

“Anything we can do to help reduce their anxiety makes it easier for them and their parents and helps with their recovery.”

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