Pain management and sedation strategies have become more complex in recent years, with accompanying documented increases in morbidity and mortality. Consequently, various government agencies and professional associations have issued requirements or recommendations designed to ensure optimal and safe pain management in different populations. The pediatric nurse must understand the rationale behind these guidelines, which pain and sedation assessment tools are valid and reliable, how and when to use these tools, and the purpose and limitations of each tool. This article summarizes the recent recommendations, identifies valid and reliable pediatric pain and sedation assessment tools, and describes the appropriate use of these tools to provide safe and high-quality patient care.

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