Variation in Prehospital Protocols for Pediatric Respiratory Distress Management in the United States

Kerry McCans, Selina Varma, Sriram Ramgopal, Christian Martin-Gill, Sylvia Owusu-Ansah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: This study aimed to compare statewide emergency medical services protocols for the management of pediatric respiratory distress. Methods: We performed a descriptive study of emergency medical services protocols for the management of pediatric respiratory distress in the United States, excluding those without model or mandatory protocols. We compared medication recommendations for specific disease processes, including asthma, croup, epiglottitis, anaphylaxis, generalized respiratory distress, intubation, and drug assisted intubation. Results: Thirty-four state protocols were included. All had protocols to address the management of pediatric respiratory distress. There was high agreement in albuterol use for bronchospasm and epinephrine use in anaphylaxis. Epinephrine was recommended in all anaphylaxis protocols, 27 croup protocols (79%), and 3 epiglottitis protocols (9%). Six states (18%) called for albuterol in patients with generalized respiratory distress. Steroid recommendations and indications had variance among states; 26 states (76%) allowed steroid use in patients with asthma, 19 states (56%) recommended steroid use in anaphylaxis, and 11 (32%) recommended steroid use in croup protocols. The route for steroid administration also varied among protocols. Five states (15%) allowed continuous positive airway pressure application in pediatric patients, whereas endotracheal intubation and rapid sequence intubations had varying requirements as well as recommendations for use. Twelve (35%) listed impending or current respiratory failure as an indication, whereas other states had specific markers, such as Glasgow Coma Scale or oxygen saturation, as indications. Conclusions: All included states had specific recommendations for the management of pediatric respiratory distress. There was consistency in recommendations for albuterol use for wheezing and epinephrine use for anaphylaxis. However, there was wide variability in other uses for epinephrine, steroid administration, continuous positive airway pressure use, and specific treatments for croup and epiglottitis. The findings of this study provide a base for important future evidence-based protocol developments and changes in prehospital pediatric respiratory distress treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1355-E1361
JournalPediatric emergency care
Volume38
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

Keywords

  • asthma
  • emergency medical services
  • pediatric intubation
  • protocols
  • respiratory distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine

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