Evaluation of IV to Enteral Benzodiazepine Conversion Calculations in a Pediatric Intensive Care Setting

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2018 Nov;19(11):e569-e575. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000001687.


Objectives: To evaluate if institutionally established calculations for transitioning continuous IV midazolam to enteral benzodiazepines maintain Withdrawal Assessment Tool-Version 1 scores equal to or less than preconversion values.

Design: Retrospective cohort study evaluating the effectiveness and safety of benzodiazepine conversion calculations embedded within an institution-specific clinical pathway for sedation and weaning of mechanically ventilated pediatric patients.

Setting: A 55-bed, mixed-medical, noncardiac surgical PICU in a tertiary care children's hospital.

Patients: All patients age 6 months to 18 years who received continuous midazolam for 5 days or longer while mechanically ventilated for 5-21 days and were then converted to either enteral diazepam or lorazepam following extubation (or return to baseline ventilator settings in tracheostomy-dependent patients) between January 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016.

Interventions: Benzodiazepine conversion calculations were applied according to institutional clinical pathway guidance.

Measurements and main results: Withdrawal Assessment Tool-Version 1 scores were compared pre and post benzodiazepine conversion. Patient demographics, benzodiazepine dose escalations, as needed benzodiazepine requirements, and severe adverse events within 48 hours of conversion were assessed. Seventy-one patient encounters were analyzed (median age, 2.5 yr; interquartile range, 1.2-5.3). The median Withdrawal Assessment Tool-Version 1 scores pre conversion and post conversion were not significantly different (1 [interquartile range, 0.75-2] and 1 [interquartile range, 0.25-2], respectively, p = 0.1). As needed benzodiazepine doses were administered in 38% of encounters post conversion, but escalation of a scheduled enteral benzodiazepine regimen was only required in 2.8% of encounters. Post conversion, one patient (1.4%) had increased seizure activity, and four patients (5.6%) required fluid boluses secondary to tachycardia or dehydration, but not hypotension.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that standardized benzodiazepine conversions successfully achieved consistent Withdrawal Assessment Tool-Version 1 scores compared with preconversion values. Severe adverse events associated with oversedation and/or withdrawal were minimal and confounded by underlying disease states.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Airway Extubation / adverse effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diazepam / administration & dosage*
  • Diazepam / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Dosage Calculations*
  • Drug Substitution*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacokinetics
  • Infant
  • Infusions, Intravenous / methods
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Lorazepam / administration & dosage*
  • Lorazepam / pharmacokinetics
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage*
  • Midazolam / adverse effects
  • Midazolam / pharmacokinetics
  • Quality Improvement
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / prevention & control


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Lorazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Midazolam