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Safety and efficacy of nurse-controlled analgesia in patients less than 1 year of age

Authors Walia H, Tumin D, Wrona S, Martin D, Bhalla T, Tobias J

Received 23 February 2016

Accepted for publication 13 April 2016

Published 11 June 2016 Volume 2016:9 Pages 385—390


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Hina Walia,1 Dmitry Tumin,1 Sharon Wrona,1 David Martin,1,2 Tarun Bhalla,1,2 Joseph D Tobias,1-3

1Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, 2Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, 3Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH, USA

Background: The management of acute pain presents unique challenges in the younger pediatric population. Although patient-controlled devices are frequently used in patients ≥6 years of age, alternative modes of analgesic delivery are needed in infants.
Objective: To examine the safety and efficacy of nurse-controlled analgesia (NCA) in neonates less than 1 year of age.
Methods: Data from patients <1 year of age receiving NCA as ordered by the Acute Pain Service at our institution were collected over a 5-year period and reviewed retrospectively. The primary outcomes were activation of the institution’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) or Code Blue, signifying severe adverse events. Pain score after NCA initiation was a secondary outcome.
Results: Among 338 girls and 431 boys, the most common opioid used for NCA was fentanyl, followed by morphine and hydromorphone. There were 39 (5%) cases involving RRT or Code Blue activation, of which only one (Code Blue) was activated due to a complication of NCA (apnea). Multivariable logistic regression demonstrated morphine NCA to be associated with greater odds of RRT activation (OR=3.29, 95% CI=1.35, 8.03, P=0.009) compared to fentanyl NCA. There were no statistically significant differences in pain scores after NCA initiation across NCA agents.
Conclusion: NCA is safe in neonates and infants, with comparable efficacy demonstrated for the three agents used. The elevated incidence of RRT activation in patients receiving morphine suggests caution in its use and consideration of alternative agents in this population.

Keywords: nurse-controlled analgesia, pain medicine, Rapid Response Team

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