Update From the Chair of the Section on Anesthesiology, the American Academy of Pediatrics

By Anita Honkanen, MD
Clinical Professor
Stanford University

Dr. Honkanen

Dr. Honkanen

As our nation endures a historically challenging time in the fight against COVID-19, I wish everyone well. It has become clear that children may be asymptotically infected with COVID-19, and able to transmit the virus.  I want to thank all of our physicians, nurses, techs, cleaning crews, and the many other members of our staff who are putting themselves at increased risk to care for our patients.  I urge everyone to remain vigilant in taking precautions for yourself while doing so. 

Over the last few weeks, the AAP has developed many resources for both providers and the public on the novel coronavirus. Critical updates for clinicians, including clinical guidance, information on PPE, physician wellness tips, advocacy resources, etc., have been collected on a central AAP COVID-19 website. The AAP also recently launched a new virtual community for AAP members and AAP Chapter Executive Directors to connect directly with one another about the COVID-19 pandemic and to pose questions; share helpful tips and practice pearls; and offer and receive support and encouragement from peers. Please consider using it to share and receive ideas and support. In addition, the AAP’s patient education site, HealthyChildren.org, which receives approximately nine million page views per month, has a constantly updated page on the novel coronavirus that covers both the science and practical guidance for parents.
The SPA/AAP SOA joint winter meeting in the Bahamas was a great success and set the stage for celebrating the career of Dr. Jay Deshpande, our well-deserving 2020 Robert M. Smith Award winner. Congrats again to Jay!

The AAP remains the leading child health advocacy organization in the U.S., working tirelessly on behalf of our patients. The most current AAP Academic and Subspecialty Advocacy Report can be viewed here.  As a healthcare advocacy leader, the AAP has joined in the effort to urge the federal government to take emergency measures to increase the supply of personal protective equipment and other essential equipment. Recently, the AAP, along with 12 other medical societies, issued an urgent call for federal action to address medical equipment shortages;  and while COVID-19 concerns have deservedly consumed our immediate attention, other critical concerns remain.  Thus, the AAP continues to press for FDA review of E-Cigarettes, highlighting that it is more critical now than ever and that any delay related to COVID-19 must be brief.

Several policy statements remain “under-construction” by our section, including statements addressing Oxymetazoline (Afrin) use in pediatrics, the care of children with chronic pain, the assessment and management of acute pain in pediatrics, and the perioperative management of children with obstructive sleep apnea. Shared statements on topics in collaboration with other AAP sections include pain management in the neonate and premedication for neonatal intubation, the recognition and management of opioid dependence in children, the preoperative approach to pediatric patients with congenital heart disease, the approach to DNR orders for children coming for anesthesia and surgery, oral health care for developmentally disabled children, and the relief of anxiety and pain in children presenting to the emergency room.

In recent years, the SOA has led educational efforts within the AAP related to the impact of the opioid crisis on children, including the development of an online course on Chronic Pain and the sponsorship of many live educational sessions at the AAP’s National Conference and Exhibition. In October 2019, the SOA hosted the AAP’s Pediatrics for the 21st Century Program, taking a comprehensive look at how pediatricians and pediatric specialists can provide optimal pain management after surgery, injury, and in other clinical situations, while minimizing side effects and complications of opioid use. In the face of a national shortage of pediatric pain practitioners, the SOA has teamed up with colleagues both within and outside the AAP to begin thinking about the development of board certification for Pediatric Pain Medicine, gaining support from both the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Anesthesiology. This effort currently includes curriculum development, ACGME fellowship certification development, and creation of an examination process.

Lastly, the AAP is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and is taking a look back at the dedicated pediatricians who paved the way for its founding. AAP News will publish one historical article per month throughout 2020 in honor of this milestone, collecting the articles for perusal here. Thus far, the articles have examined societal factors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that led to the establishment of the AAP, the growth of pediatrics in the 1930s and the activities of the AAP in the 1940s. Stay tuned for more to come.

if you are reading this and are not yet a member of the AAP Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, now is the time to get involved!  We need your ideas and your energy, with everyone working together to create a better world for our children - the one they deserve. Stay well.  

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