About Patient-Controlled Analgesia

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is a way for your child to help manage his pain. PCA is given to your child through an IV (intravenous) pump. The pump contains pain medication that flows through a long clear tube that connects to your child’s IV line. The pump has a cord attached to it with a button on the end. Your child may press the PCA button to receive pain medication.

The pump will only give your child the amount of medicine prescribed by your child's doctor or nurse practitioner. Your child cannot receive too much medication even if he pushes the button many times in a row because the pump is set to only give a certain amount of medication every few minutes. Only your child may push the PCA button, although you may remind your child to push the button whenever she has pain. Our goal is to keep your child safe and as comfortable as possible.

Your child should press the PCA button on the pump:

  • When she is in pain.
  • When she is getting ready for an activity which may hurt, such as turning in bed, walking, or going to the bathroom.
  • Have your child press the PCA button 10 minutes before therapies, procedures, or activities that may cause pain. It takes 5-10 minutes for the medicine to start working.
  • Have your child press the PCA button again once the activity or therapy has begun.

The PCA pump won't take away all of your child's pain, but your child should feel comfortable. If you or your child feels the pain medicine is not working, talk to your child's nurse or doctor.

PCA is just one way to help your child manage her pain. There are also non-pharmacologic (without medications) ways to help your child cope with pain, such as arts, music, reading and video games. If you have any questions, please ask a member of your healthcare team.

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