Background: The influence of patient characteristics, institutional demographics, and published practice guidelines on the provision of IV opioid analgesia, particularly as delivered through a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) delivery device, to pediatric patients is unknown. Methods: We sent a national, web-based, descriptive survey of pediatric pain management practice to select members of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia to assess institutional demographics, availability and implementation of IVPCA and PCA by proxy, and recalled occurrence of serious and life-threatening opioid-related side effects. Results: Data from respondents at 252 institutions throughout the United States were collected and analyzed. Sixty-nine percent of respondents practiced in a children's hospital or children's center within a general hospital, and 51% of institutions had a pediatric pain service. Virtually all pediatric pain services (91%) were administered by departments of anesthesiology. Pediatric pain service availability correlated with the number of pediatric beds. IVPCA was available to pediatric patients at 96% of institutions surveyed, whereas IVPCA by proxy was available at only 38%. Eleven percent of respondents reported that their hospital no longer provided IVPCA by proxy as a result of the 2004 Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals Sentinel Event Warning. Instructional material concerning IVPCA was provided to patients or their families by 40% of institutions. IVPCA orders were handwritten by 55% of respondents, despite 39% having computerized provider order entry systems. Ninety percent of respondents reported using pulse oximetry monitoring when patients were administered IVPCA. Forty-two respondents recalled patients having received naloxone to counteract the cardiopulmonary side effects of opioids during the year before receipt of the survey. Eight respondents recalled patient deaths having occurred over the past 5 years in patients receiving IVPCA, IVPCA by proxy, and continuous non-IVPCA opioid infusions. Conclusions: Although IVPCA was available to pediatric patients at most institutions surveyed, prescribing practices and supervision of pediatric pain management were influenced by patient characteristics, institutional demographics, and published national guidelines. Recalled life-threatening events were reported in conjunction with all modes of opioid infusion therapy. Interventions that might diminish the incidence of adverse events but are not used to their fullest extent include improved education and implementation of systems designed to minimize human error involved in the prescribing of opioids. Providing a more accurate accounting of complications would require institutions to participate in a prospective data-collecting consortium designed to track both the incidence of therapy and associated complications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine