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Giggling with Gus

(Southern Health News, April 2019)

Giggling with ‘Gus’

Tears, pain and anxiety in the Paediatric Emergency Department at Flinders Medical Centre have been replaced by the sound of giggling, with the arrival of a new piece of equipment nicknamed ‘Gus’.

FMC’s official charity, Flinders Foundation, purchased the portable Nitrous Continuous Flow system for the department to provide sick and injured children with moderate sedation during some procedures.

‘Gus’ – a nickname which stands for ‘Giggling Under Sedation’ – is typically used when putting in intravenous drips, taking blood tests, fixing fractures and dislocations, cleaning and suturing wounds or dressing burns.

Paediatric Emergency Consultant, Dr Adrian Ting, says the gas helps to safely calm and relax young patients who might otherwise need heavier sedation.

‘Some kids get the giggles when they have it, or get a bit sleepy so they can be distracted by things like bubbles and movies,’ Dr Ting says.

‘Ultimately it calms and chills them out, helping cut through the anxiety so they aren’t aware of the pain or anxious about what’s going on around them.’

In addition to being portable, the new equipment delivers gas continuously to children by mask, as opposed to the department’s other system which operates ‘on-demand’.

‘The on-demand system is great, but it has its limitations because it requires patients to be compliant in order for it to work – if they don’t breathe the gas voluntarily, they don’t get it,’ Dr Ting explains.

‘Often in paediatrics the children are either too young to understand how to suck the gas, or they get anxious during their procedure and regress.

‘The new system enables a continuous flow of gas and better control so that they likely won’t remember the procedure.

‘Hospitals can be scary places and it’s good when we can offer little things like this which make it a good, painless experience without too much trauma - for both the kids and their parents.’

Four-year-old Emily Field was among the first patients to try out ‘Gus’, after a fall at day care resulted in stitches to her forehead.

‘She was pretty upset to start with,’ Emily’s mum Vicki says.

‘But (the gas) was really helpful as it kept her nice and calm and she didn’t thrash about.

‘From a parent perspective you don’t like to see your kids upset so that was really wonderful, and the staff were fantastic.’

You can help support Kids@Flinders by making a donation at www.flindersfoundation.org.au  

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