Morphine infusion

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Key points about morphine infusions

  • a morphine infusion will help manage your child's pain
  • the nurses check regularly to make sure your child is safe and comfortable

What is it?

A morphine infusion is pain relieving medicine given continuously through a pump. It's usually given after an operation but can sometimes be used to manage pain that results from a medical condition or injury.

In some hospitals, the nurse can give an extra dose of morphine through the pump as needed. This is called nurse controlled analgesia (NCA). Analgesia means pain relief.

How does it work?

When used after surgery, the morphine infusion will be started when your child is in the theatre recovery room, at the end of the operation. A nurse will connect the morphine infusion pump to your child's intravenous line (IV line).  If your child is not comfortable despite the morphine infusion, the nurse is able to give your child an extra dose of the morphine.  The morphine infusion pump is computerised and programmed by the doctors and nurses before being attached to your child’s IV line. This means the pump won’t give your child too much medication. 

How safe is it?

A morphine infusion is very safe.  Nurses check regularly to make sure your child is safe and comfortable.

Who will make sure the morphine infusion is working?

The ward nurse will keep checking your child’s morphine infusion.  If there are any problems they will contact the specialist nurse or doctor.

Are there any side effects?

Sometimes the morphine can make your child feel sick, itchy or sleepy.  If this happens, your child will be given medication to stop these side effects from happening. Medication may be given as pills or syrup that your child can swallow, or it may be given through your child's IV line. Occasionally the specialist nurse or doctor will change the morphine to another morphine-like drug (fentanyl or oxycodone), if the side effects continue to be a problem.

Can my child become addicted to morphine?


When morphine is used for a short time for pain control, your child will not become addicted.


Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the co-operation of the Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland District Health Board in making this fact sheet available to patients and families.

This page last reviewed 02 April 2015
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2015
Printed on 03 May 2015. Content is regularly updated so please refer to for the most up-to-date version
Content endorsed by the Paediatric Society of New Zealand