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Heart Lung. 2013 May-Jun;42(3):171-6. doi: 10.1016/j.hrtlng.2013.02.004.

Defining sedation-related adverse events in the pediatric intensive care unit.

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Pediatric Critical Care, Primary Children's Medical Center, 100 North Mario Capecchi Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84113, USA.



Clinical trials exploring optimal sedation management in critically ill pediatric patients are urgently needed to improve both short- and long-term outcomes. Concise operational definitions that define and provide best-available estimates of sedation-related adverse events (AE) in the pediatric population are fundamental to this line of inquiry.


To perform a multiphase systematic review of the literature to identify, define, and provide estimates of sedation-related AEs in the pediatric ICU setting for use in a multicenter clinical trial.


In Phase One, we identified and operationally defined the AE. OVID-MEDLINE and CINAHL databases were searched from January 1998 to January 2012. Key terms included sedation, intensive and critical care. We limited our search to data-based clinical trials from neonatal to adult age. In Phase Two, we replicated the search strategy for all AEs and identified pediatric-specific AE rates.


We reviewed 20 articles identifying sedation-related adverse events and 64 articles on the pediatric-specific sedation-related AE. A total of eleven sedation-related AEs were identified, operationally defined and estimated pediatric event rates were derived. AEs included: inadequate sedation management, inadequate pain management, clinically significant iatrogenic withdrawal, unplanned endotracheal tube extubation, post-extubation stridor with chest-wall retractions at rest, extubation failure, unplanned removal of invasive tubes, ventilator-associated pneumonia, catheter-associated bloodstream infection, Stage II+ pressure ulcers and new tracheostomy.


Concise operational definitions that defined and provided best-available event rates of sedation-related AEs in the pediatric population are presented. Uniform reporting of adverse events will improve subject and patient safety.

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