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A piñata is a decorative container made of papier-mâché filled with candy, which in the inpatient medical setting is synonymous with pain medications. As part of the celebration of pain management, the patient is blindfolded, spun around, and then attempts to break the piñata with a stick, broom, Foley, or stethoscope.


There are several types of piñatas:

  1. Tylenol piñata - This contains no more than 4 grams of Tylenol in order to prevent overdose.
  2. NSAID piñatas - Ibuprofen is the most commonly prescribed piñata, though patients are allowed to play with it only every 6 or 8 hours in order to prevent stomach upset or renal failure.
  3. Narcotic piñatas - The classic piñata.

Special Types

A particular favorite among health care providers is the indestructible Dilaudid piñata, where a patient is also allowed to obtain Dilaudid if they can get it out of the piñata. Though they try and try and try, they never succeed because the patients don't know the piñata is made of bulletproof Kevlar.

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