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Turning Panic into Play: The Heartwarming Journey of PEDIA

5 min readDiane Miller, MHS, CRNA, Founder & CEO PeDIA, LLC

In the bustling world of healthcare, where every second counts, nurses are the unsung heroes, quietly weaving threads of care and compassion into the fabric of patient treatment. Our role extends far beyond the clinical tasks of assessments and documentation; It's about understanding, connection, and bringing light to the darkest moments. It's in these instances that the true essence of nursing shines brightest—not just in healing the body but in nurturing the soul.

The Story of Zee

One such moment unfolded on an ordinary morning that turned into anything but. I was prepping a little warrior, a four-year-old girl who, two years prior, had bravely battled retinoblastoma and lost her left eye in the fight. Zee frequented the operating room almost monthly to save the sight in her other eye. Yet, it wasn't the cancer that haunted her; it was something much simpler and profoundly more terrifying to her young mind: the anesthesia mask. Children don't like needles so, to make induction more palatable, we use an anesthesia mask filled with anesthesia gases. However, the mask is the most stressful part of surgery for a child. Pediatric anxiety during induction of anesthesia causes maladaptive consequences during, and long after induction.

When I entered Zee's preoperative room, she took a bold stance, raised her hand in a stop-right-there motion, and screamed, "No mask, no mask," in a chilling expression of her terror. She fought, screaming no mask down the corridors and through induction.

During this heartbreaking scene, as two staff members restrained Zee, I heard the circulating nurse sweetly say, “Just blow up the balloon, honey,” referring to the reservoir bag on the anesthesia machine.  In that moment, I had this amazing BFO, a Blinding Flash of the Obvious: If we promise a balloon, we should deliver!

A young child is lying on a skateboard. They are wearing a red and white striped shirt and jeans, and there is a toy rocket strapped to their back and a helmet on their head. There is a drawing of clouds and a rocket blasting off above them.

The Birth of PEDIA

Fast forward through months of brainstorming, prototyping, and navigating the maze of patents and federal regulations, PEDIA was born ( After nearly a century, the revolutionary PEDIA balloon transformed a method of fear into engagement, cooperation and PLAY! On my second PEDIA experience with Zee, I filled the balloon with anesthetic gases and handed it to her. She snatched it out of my hand, literally pushed me away, then leaned in with confidence and said, "I can do it myself!" That's when I knew I had to bring this to children everywhere.

That journey was paved with challenges, from deciphering federal regulations to engaging with engineers, lawyers, and a whole spectrum of professionals. It was a crash course in business, manufacturing, and perseverance, fueled by coffee and a relentless desire to make a difference. 

Finding Guidance, Solace, and Support


I did find solace and guidance and support in some unexpected places:

  • SCORE (
  • Fellow medical professionals in this space shared insights and, sometimes, talked me off the ledge!
  • My Team—legal, engineering, quality management and regulatory affairs (choose these wisely)
  • Social Media sites, like LinkedIn, for branding and education
  • Medical Device Conferences to find dealers/reps.

Introducing PEDIA Into the Pediatric Induction Routine

The introduction of PEDIA into the pediatric induction routine marked a significant shift. It wasn't just about alleviating the fear associated with medical procedures; it was about redefining the experience, about ensuring that pediatric patients faced their challenges not with tears but with dignity and a sense of control. "I can do it myself," became a testament to the power of innovation driven by empathy and care.

The path to PEDIA was filled with lessons, both personal and professional. It taught me the value of looking beyond the conventional, of listening not just to the words but to the unspoken fears of those we serve. Nursing challenges us to see the world through our patients' eyes and to find solutions.

Advice to Those at the Crossroads of Innovation

To those standing at the crossroads of innovation and care, my advice is simple: follow your heart. The journey of transforming an idea into a reality is daunting, filled with obstacles and moments of doubt.

Yet, it's in these challenges that we find our strength, our purpose, and ultimately, our impact. Don't chase innovation for the sake of accolades or financial gain; those may never come. Instead, pursue innovation because you see a need, a gap that, when bridged, can make a difference. Think outside the box, reach out for help and do it! It will open your world beyond compare and, I believe, will make you a better nurse.

In the end, nursing is about more than just procedures and protocols. It's about human connection, about bringing comfort and understanding into moments of vulnerability. With PEDIA, we've woven a new thread into the fabric of pediatric care, one that colors the experience with joy and playfulness. It's a reminder that sometimes, the most profound innovations come from the simplest of ideas, sparked in the heart of someone who dares to care deeply.

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