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Research: Same baby, different care: variations in practice between neonatologists and pediatric intensivists

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Research: Same baby, different care: variations in practice between neonatologists and pediatric intensivists

Eur J Pediatr

. 2022 Jan 10. doi: 10.1007/s00431-022-04372-4. Online ahead of print. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35006378/

Liron Borenstein-Levin 1 2Ori Hochwald 3 4Josef Ben-Ari 4 5Gil Dinur 3 4Yoav Littner 3 4Danny Eytan 4 5Amir Kugelman 3 4Michael Halberthal 4 5 6Affiliations expand

Abstract

The aim of the study was to identify and explore areas in neonatal care in which significant differences in clinical care exist, among neonatal intensive care (NICU) and pediatric intensive care (PICU) physicians. A questionnaire presenting three common scenarios in neonatal critical care-severe pneumonia, post-cardiac-surgery care, and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) was electronically sent to all PICU and NICU physicians in Israel. The survey was completed by 110 physicians. Significant differences were noted between NICU and PICU physicians’ treatment choices. A non-cuffed endotracheal tube, initial high-frequency ventilation, and lower tidal volumes when applying synchronized-intermittent-mechanical-ventilation were selected more often by NICU physicians. For sedation/analgesia, NICU physicians treated as needed or by continuous infusion of a single agent, while PICU physicians more often chose to continuously infuse ≥ 2 medications. Fentanyl, midazolam, and muscle relaxants were chosen more often by PICU physicians. Morphine administration was similar for both groups. Treating CDH with pulmonary hypertension and systemic hypotension, NICU physicians more often began treatment with high dose dopamine and/or dobutamine, while PICU physicians chose low-dose adrenalin and/or milrinone. For vascular access NICU physicians chose umbilical lines most often, while PICU physicians preferred other central sites.Conclusion: Our study identified major differences in respiratory and hemodynamic care, sedation and analgesia, and vascular access between NICU and PICU physicians, resulting from field-specific consensus guidelines and practice traditions. We suggest to establish joint committees from both professions, aimed at finding the optimal treatment for this vulnerable population – be it in the NICU or in the PICU. What is Known: • Variability in neonatal care between the neonatal and the pediatric intensive care units has been previously described. What is New: • This scenario-based survey study identified major differences in respiratory and hemodynamic care, sedation and analgesia, and vascular access between neonatologists and pediatric intensivists, resulting from lack of evidence-based literature to guide neonatal care, field-specific consensus guidelines, and practice traditions. • These findings indicate a need for joint committees, combining the unique skills and literature from both professions, to conduct clinical trials focusing on these specific areas of care, aimed at finding the optimal treatment for this vulnerable population – be it in the neonatal or the pediatric intensive care unit.

Keywords: Critical care; Infant; Intensive care units; Neonatal intensive care units; Neonates; Pediatric; Premature; Surveys and questionnaires.

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