Epinephrine syringe exchange events in a paediatric cardiovascular ICU: analysing the storm

Cardiol Young. 2018 Mar;28(3):409-415. doi: 10.1017/S1047951117002232. Epub 2017 Dec 4.


Introduction Haemodynamically unstable patients can experience potentially hazardous changes in vital signs related to the exchange of depleted syringes of epinephrine to full syringes. The purpose was to determine the measured effects of epinephrine syringe exchanges on the magnitude, duration, and frequency of haemodynamic disturbances in the hour after an exchange event (study) relative to the hours before (control). Materials and methods Beat-to-beat vital signs recorded every 2 seconds from bedside monitors for patients admitted to the paediatric cardiovascular ICU of Texas Children's Hospital were collected between 1 January, 2013 and 30 June, 2015. Epinephrine syringe exchanges without dose/flow change were obtained from electronic records. Time, magnitude, and duration of changes in systolic blood pressure and heart rate were characterised using Matlab. Significant haemodynamic events were identified and compared with control data.

Results: In all, 1042 syringe exchange events were found and 850 (81.6%) had uncorrupted data for analysis. A total of 744 (87.5%) exchanges had at least 1 associated haemodynamic perturbation including 2958 systolic blood pressure and 1747 heart-rate changes. Heart-rate perturbations occurred 37% before exchange and 63% after exchange, and 37% of systolic blood pressure perturbations happened before syringe exchange, whereas 63% occurred after syringe exchange with significant differences found in systolic blood pressure frequency (p<0.001), duration (p<0.001), and amplitude (p<0.001) compared with control data.

Conclusions: This novel data collection and signal processing analysis showed a significant increase in frequency, duration, and magnitude of systolic blood pressure perturbations surrounding epinephrine syringe exchange events.

Keywords: cardiac critical care; drug delivery; quality; syringe pump; vasoactive medication.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Syringes*
  • Texas


  • Epinephrine