Tom Vetter, M.D., Director of UAB Pain Treatment Division
Physicians and staff of the Pain Treatment Division at UAB, in collaboration with the staff and leadership at Children's Hospital of Alabama, will begin the Southeast's first pediatric chronic pain medical program at Children's Hospital in early 2009.
This clinical initiative is the result of studies that show routine assessment of chronic pain in children and its effect on qualify of life is worthwhile, says Tom Vetter, M.D., Director of the UAB Pain Treatment Division. "Pediatric chronic pain is common and results in significant health care costs. Pediatric pain is both an individual and a public health concern."
The pediatric pain program will provide long-term benefits. "I'm interested in further examining the role of parents and families in adolescent pain," Vetter says. "I want to look at their role in how a child struggles or flourishes with chronic pain."
Vetter hopes to build on the pediatric program to start a similar multifunctional pain medicine program for adults at UAB Highlands in another year or so. "Normally in medicine, advances in adults are adapted and passed down to pediatric patients. This is in reverse; we will build the program for children and adapt it for adults," he says.
In conjunction with the strategic vision of Children's Hospital, Vetter says the program will enhance the reputation of the hospital and bring it national recognition. He has been impressed by the collaboration of all parties involved in bringing about the implementation of this program. "It will be a challenge, but because Children's Hospital is a smaller facility, it makes it more efficient for a collaborative effort to succeed," he says. "Given the collaborative spirit at UAB, I am optimistic that it also will succeed at UAB Highlands."