Are newborns receiving premedication before elective intubation?

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To determine the extent and type of premedication used for elective endotracheal intubation in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).


A pretested questionnaire was distributed via e-mail to the program directors of the neonatology divisions with accredited fellowship programs in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine in the United States.


Of the 100 individuals contacted, 78 (78%) participated in the survey. Only 34 of the 78 respondents (43.6%) always use any premedication for elective intubation. Nineteen respondents (24.4%) reported to have a written policy regarding premedication. Morphine or fentanyl was used most commonly (57.1%), with a combination of opioids and midazolam or other benzodiazepines used less frequently. Fourteen respondents (25%) also use muscle relaxants with sedation for premedication, but only nine respondents combined paralysis with atropine and sedation.


Most neonatology fellowship program directors do not report always using premedication for newborns before elective endotracheal intubation despite strong evidence of physiologic and practical benefits. Only a minority of the NICUs has written guidelines for sedation, which may preclude effective auditing of this practice. Educational interventions may be necessary to ensure changes in clinical practice.

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