Exposure and Confidence With Critical Nonairway Procedures: A Global Survey of Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physicians

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021 Sep 1;37(9):e551-e559. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002092.


Background: Children rarely experience critical illness, resulting in low exposure of emergency physicians (EPs) to critical procedures. Our primary objective was to describe senior EP confidence, most recent performance, and/or supervision of critical nonairway procedures. Secondary objectives were to compare responses between those who work exclusively in PEM and those who do not and to determine whether confidence changed for selected procedures according to increasing patient age.

Methods: Survey of senior EPs working in 96 emergency departments (EDs) affiliated with the Pediatric Emergency Research Networks. Questions assessed training, performance, supervision, and confidence in 11 nonairway critical procedures, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), vascular access, chest decompression, and cardiac procedures.

Results: Of 2446 physicians, 1503 (61%) responded to the survey. Within the previous year, only CPR and insertion of an intraosseous needle had been performed by at least 50% of respondents: over 20% had performed defibrillation/direct current cardioversion. More than 50% of respondents had never performed or supervised ED thoracotomy, pericardiocentesis, venous cutdown, or transcutaneous pacing. Self-reported confidence was high for all patient age groups for CPR, needle thoracocentesis, tube thoracostomy, intraosseous needle insertion, and defibrillation/DC cardioversion. Confidence levels increased with increasing patient age for central venous and arterial line insertion. Respondents working exclusively in PEM were more likely to report being at least somewhat confident in defibrillation/DC cardioversion, intraosseous needle insertion, and central venous line insertion in particular age groups; however, they were less likely to be at least somewhat confident in ED thoracotomy and transcutaneous pacing.

Conclusions: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation and intraosseous needle insertion were the only critical nonairway procedures performed by at least half of EPs within the previous year. Confidence was higher for these procedures, and needle and tube thoracostomy. These data may inform the development of continuing medical education activities to maintain pediatric procedural skills for emergency physicians.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Child
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Pediatric Emergency Medicine*
  • Physicians*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires