Variations in analgesic, sedation, and delirium management between trauma and non-trauma critically ill children

Steven C. Mehl, Megan E. Cunningham, Michael D. Chance, Huirong Zhu, Sara C. Fallon, Bindi Naik-Mathuria, Nicholas A. Ettinger, Adam M. Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Studies have shown the benefit of intensive care unit (ICU) bundled protocols; however, they are primarily derived from medical patients. We hypothesized that patients and their medication profiles are different between critically ill medical, surgical, and trauma patients. Methods: The Pediatric Health Information System 2017 dataset was used to perform a retrospective cohort study of critically ill children. The pediatric medical, surgical, and trauma cohorts were separated based on ICD-10 codes. Data collected included demographics, secondary diagnoses, outcomes, and medication data. Medications were grouped as opiates, GABA-agonists, alpha-2 agonists, anti-psychotics, paralytics, and “other” sedatives. A non-parametric Kolmogorov–Smirnov test (KS test) and odds ratios (reference group: medical cohort) were calculated to compare medication administration between the study cohorts for the first 30 ICU days. Results: A total of 4488 critically ill children (medical 2078, surgical 1650, and trauma 760) were identified. The trauma cohort had increased incidence of delirium (medical 10.8%, surgical 11.5%, trauma 13.8%; p < 0.01) and mortality (medical 5.4%, surgical 2.4%, trauma 11.7%; p < 0.01). For all study cohorts, > 50% received GABA-agonists on ICU days 0–30. With the KS test, there was a significant difference in administration of opiates, GABA-agonists, alpha-2 agonists, anti-psychotics, and “other” sedatives over the first 30 days in the ICU. Relative to medical patients, trauma patients had significantly higher odds of receiving anti-psychotics on ICU days 10–20 and 22–24. Conclusion: Critically ill pediatric trauma, medical, and surgical patients are distinctly different patient populations with differing pharmacologic profiles for analgesia, sedation, and delirium. Level of evidence: Level III (Retrospective Comparative Study).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-305
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Surgery International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesia
  • Children
  • Critically ill
  • Delirium
  • Sedation
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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