Pediatric Neurocritical Care: Evolution of a New Clinical Service in PICUs Across the United States

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Abstract

Objectives:

Pediatric neurocritical care as a conceptual service is relatively new, and implementation of such specialized services may improve outcomes for children with disorders of the brain or spinal cord. How many pediatric neurocritical care services currently exist in the United States, and attitudes about such a service are unknown.

Design:

Web-based survey, distributed by e-mail.

Setting:

Survey was sent to PICU Medical Directors and Program Directors of Pediatric Neurosurgery fellowship and Child Neurology residency programs.

Patients:

None.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements and Main Results:

A total of 378 surveys were distributed; 161 respondents representing 128 distinct hospitals completed the survey (43% response rate). Thirty-five percent (45/128) reported having a pediatric neurocritical care service. The most common type of service used a consultation model (82%; 32/39 responses). Other types of services were intensivist-led teams in the PICU (five hospitals) and dedicated PICU beds (two hospitals). Hospital characteristics associated with availability of pediatric neurocritical care services were level 1 trauma status (p = 0.017), greater numbers of PICU beds (χ2 [6, n = 128] = 136.84; p < 0.01), and greater volume of children with pediatric neurocritical care conditions (χ2 [3, n = 128] = 20.16; p < 0.01). The most common reasons for not having a pediatric neurocritical care service were low patient volume (34/119 responses), lack of subspecialists (30/119 responses), and lack of interest by PICU faculty (25/119 responses). The positive impacts of a pediatric neurocritical care service were improved interdisciplinary education/training (16/45 responses), dedicated expertise (13/45 responses), improved interservice communication (9/45 responses), and development/implementation of guidelines and protocols (9/45 responses). The negative impacts of a pediatric neurocritical care service were disagreement among consultants (2/45 responses) and splitting of the PICU population (2/45 responses).

Conclusions:

At least 45 specialized pediatric neurocritical care services exist in the United States. Eighty percent of these services are a consultation service to the PICU. Hospitals with level 1 trauma status, greater numbers of PICU beds, and greater numbers of patients with pediatric neurocritical care conditions were associated with the existence of pediatric neurocritical care as a clinical service.

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