Pain intervention for infant lumbar puncture in the emergency department: Physician practice and beliefs

John D. Hoyle, Alexander J. Rogers, Diann E. Reischman, Elizabeth C. Powell, Dominic A. Borgialli, Prashant V. Mahajan, Jeff A. Trytko, Rachel M. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objectives were to characterize physician beliefs and practice of analgesia and anesthesia use for infant lumbar puncture (LP) in the emergency department (ED) and to determine if provider training type, experience, and beliefs are associated with reported pain intervention use. Methods: An anonymous survey was distributed to ED faculty and pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) fellows at five Midwestern hospitals. Questions consisted of categorical, yes/no, descriptive, and incremental responses. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics with confidence intervals (CIs) and odds ratios (ORs). Results: A total of 156 of 164 surveys (95%) distributed were completed and analyzed. Training background of respondents was 52% emergency medicine (EM), 30% PEM, and 18% pediatrics. Across training types, there was no difference in the belief that pain treatment was worthwhile (overall 78%) or in the likelihood of using at least one pain intervention. Pharmacologic pain interventions (sucrose, injectable lidocaine, and topical anesthetic) were used in the majority of LPs by 20, 29, and 27% of respondents, respectively. Nonpharmacologic pain intervention (pacifier/nonnutritive sucking) was used in the majority of LPs by 67% of respondents. Many respondents indicated that they never used sucrose (53%), lidocaine (41%), or anesthetic cream (49%). Physicians who thought pain treatment was worthwhile were more likely to use both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic pain interventions than those who did not (93% vs. 53%, OR = 10.98, 95% CI = 4.16 to 29.00). The number of LPs performed or supervised per year was not associated with pain intervention use. Other than pacifiers, injectable lidocaine was the most frequently reported pain intervention. Conclusions: Provider beliefs regarding infant pain are associated with variation in anesthesia and analgesia use during infant LP in the ED. Although the majority of physicians hold the belief that pain intervention is worthwhile in this patient group, self-reported pharmacologic interventions to reduce pain associated with infant LP are used regularly by less than one-third. Strategies targeting physician beliefs on infant pain should be developed to improve pain intervention use in the ED for infant LPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-144
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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