Opioids are important in the care of critically ill children. However, their use is associated with complications including delirium, dependence, withdrawal, and bowel dysfunction. Our aim was to implement a risk-stratified opioid weaning protocol to reduce the duration of opioids without increasing the incidence of withdrawal.Methods:
A pre- and post-interventional prospective study was undertaken in a large children's hospital pediatric ICU where we implemented a risk-stratified opioid weaning protocol. Patients were included if exposed to ≥7 days of scheduled opioids. The primary outcome was duration of opioids and secondary outcome was hospital LOS.Results:
One hundred seven critically ill children met the inclusion criteria (68 pre-, 39 post-intervention). Demographics, risk factors, and confounders did not differ between groups. Patients in the post-intervention group had shorter duration of opioids (17 vs. 22.5 days, p = 0.01) and opioid wean (12 vs. 18 days, p = 0.01). Despite the shorter duration of opioid wean, there was no increase in withdrawal incidence. There was no difference in the LOS (29 vs. 33 days, p = 0.06).Conclusions:
We implemented a risk-stratified opioid weaning protocol for critically ill children that resulted in reduction in opioid exposure without an increase in withdrawal. There was no difference in the LOS.