PEDIATRIC SERIES: Pain Management for Children with Serious Illness in the Context of the Opioid Epidemic

We live in one world, which is divided by two opioid crises: Much of the world suffers not from abuse of opioids, but absence of them. Withholding evidence-based analgesia to children with serious illness is not only unethical, but causes immediate and long-term harm. Opioids are associated with many side effects and are potentially lethal - but, no other analgesics equal in potency and effect have been discovered or developed to reduce pain and suffering. (Krane EJ, Weisman SJ, Walco GA. The National Opioid Epidemic and the Risk of Outpatient Opioids in Children. Pediatrics. 2018;142(2) The potential risks in the safety of analgesics is real, but very manageable and cannot justify denying administration of opioids to patients with severe tissue injury and/or serious illness.


Stefan J. Friedrichsdorf, MD, FAAP
Stefan J. Friedrichsdorf, MD, FAAP

Stefan J. Friedrichsdorf, MD, FAAP

Medical Director
Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care and Integrative Medicine, Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota

Stefan Friedrichsdorf is the Medical Director of the Department of Pain Medicine, Palliative Care and Integrative Medicine at Children’s Minnesota – one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind in the country. He is president-elect of the Special Interest Group on Pain in Childhood of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). Dr. Friedrichsdorf sees patients in the hospital, in the interdisciplinary pain clinic or palliative care clinic, or in the community. He is associate editor of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, the 2010-2017 principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Cancer Institute (NCI) multisite study on the creation, implementation and evaluation of a Pediatric Palliative Care Curriculum (EPEC-Pediatrics: So far trained 687 clinicians from 54 countries) and in 2008 he founded and since then directs the annual Pediatric Pain Master Class, a unique week-long intensive course for interdisciplinary health professionals (trained > 600 clinicians from 40 countries).

Dr. Friedrichsdorf received his MD degree from the Medical University of Lübeck, Germany, completed his pediatric residency at the University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany (Children’s Hospital Datteln), and undertook his fellowship in Pediatric Pain Medicine & Palliative Care at the University of Sydney, Australia (Children's Hospital at Westmead). He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics, double-boarded in Pediatrics (Germany, USA), and is trained in teaching pediatric hypnosis.

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