Background: Information about the existence and organization of pediatric sedation services in North America is not available. We conducted a survey to collect this information from anesthesiologists at pediatric institutions and to identify factors perceived as limiting the development of sedation services.
Method: We electronically mailed a confidential survey about pediatric sedation practice to an attending anesthesiologist involved in pediatric sedation at 116 children's hospitals in the United States and Canada. We identified the institutions using Internet resources. Electronic mailing addresses were obtained from departmental websites, society membership directories and departmental administrators. Our follow-up for nonresponders was by a second e-mail and a telephone call.
Results: A total of 54 completed questionnaires were received, a response rate of 47%. Forty-nine (91%) were received from US hospitals, and the remainder from Canadian. Fifty percent of hospitals had a formal pediatric sedation service. Fifty-four percent utilized a 'mobile' provider model. Hospital credentialing for nonanesthesiologist providers varied between 66 and 76% for 'deep' and 'conscious' sedation, respectively. A nurse-physician provider combination was the most common, utilized in 59% of hospitals. Anesthesiologists were the sole sedation providers in 26% of institutions. Propofol was used regularly by nonanesthesiologists for sedation of nonintubated (42%) and intubated (63%) patients. Eighty-seven percent of institutions reported barriers to development of pediatric sedation services. The most common barrier was a shortage of providers, particularly anesthesiologists.
Conclusions: Propofol use by nonanesthesiologists is common. Addressing the shortage of providers, and allocating resources for credentialing providers will encourage further development of pediatric sedation practice.