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Hosp Pediatr. 2018 Jan;8(1):36-43. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2017-0045. Epub 2017 Dec 12.

Variation in Pediatric Procedural Sedations Across Children's Hospital Emergency Departments.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and
Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and.



Describe the trends in pediatric sedation use over time and determine variation in use of procedural sedation across children's hospital emergency departments (EDs).


We analyzed ED data from 35 hospitals within the Pediatric Health Information System for patients <19 years old who received sedation medications and were discharged from 2009 to 2014. Patients with chronic comorbidities or undergoing intubation were excluded. We determined frequency and trends in use of sedation and compared these between EDs. Descriptive statistics with appropriate weighting were used.


Of the 1 448 011 patients potentially requiring sedation who presented to the ED, 99 951 (7.9%) underwent procedural sedation. Medication usage in 2014 included ketamine (73.7%), fentanyl and midazolam (15.9%), ketofol (7.3%), and propofol (2.7%). Use of fentanyl and midazolam increased, whereas use of ketamine, pentobarbital, etomidate, chloral hydrate, and methohexital decreased over time. Significant variation exists in the use of sedation across hospitals; in 2014, the sedation rate ranged 0.2% to 32.0%, with a median of 8.0%. The diagnosis with the largest variation in procedural sedation use was dislocation, with sedation rates ranging from 2% to 35%.


There is significant variability across pediatric EDs in the use of procedural sedation, suggesting sedations may be performed too often or too little in some hospitals.

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Conflict of interest statement

POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

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