Development of recommendations for dosing of commonly prescribed medications in critically ill obese children

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2015 Apr 1;72(7):542-56. doi: 10.2146/ajhp140280.


Purpose: The development and use of a decision support tool to help formulate recommendations for dosing of commonly prescribed medications in critically ill obese children are described.

Methods: Medications prescribed in 2010 to critically ill infants and children (younger than 18 years) were identified from the Pediatric Health Information System. The most commonly prescribed and therapeutically monitored medications were extracted. Supportive evidence for obesity dosing was identified through a standardized computerized search involving medical subject heading terminology and age filters using PubMed and Ovid. A usefulness scoring system was developed to rate the strength and applicability of the literature to critically ill obese children. A decision supporttool was then created to aid in the formulation of a dosing weight for each medication based on the usefulness score, published pharmacokinetic properties, clinical studies available in the primary literature, and consideration of clinical consequences of underdosing or overdosing.

Results: A total of 113 medications were evaluated, and 122 discrete citations, supporting 66 medications, were reviewed. Seventy-two percent of citations had general obesity dosing information, and 13% had pediatric-specific information. The overall mean usefulness score was 5.1±4.7 (median, 7). The decision support tool was incorporated to make final dosing weight recommendations for obese children. Ultimately, total body weight was recommended for 52 medications, adjusted weight for 43 medications, and ideal body weight for 18 medications.

Conclusion: The inadequacy of obesity dosing information for most medications commonly ordered for children admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit led to the development of a decision support tool to aid in formulating dosing recommendations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Information Dissemination
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmacokinetics


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations