Multicenter Evaluation of Prehospital Seizure Management in Children

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2021 Jul-Aug;25(4):475-486. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2020.1788194. Epub 2020 Jul 17.


Background: Seizures are a common reason why emergency medical services (EMS) transports children by ambulance. Timely seizure cessation prevents neurologic morbidity, respiratory compromise, and mortality. Implementing recommendations from an evidence-based pediatric prehospital guideline may enhance timeliness of seizure cessation and optimize medication dosing.

Objective: We compared management of pediatric prehospital seizures across several EMS systems after protocol revision consistent with an evidence-based guideline.

Methods: Using a retrospective, cross-sectional approach, we evaluated actively seizing patients (0-17 years old) EMS transported to a hospital before and after modifying local protocols to include evidence-based recommendations for seizure management in three EMS agencies. We electronically queried and manually abstracted both EMS and hospital data at each site to obtain information about patient demographics, medications given, seizure cessation and recurrence, airway interventions, access obtained, and timeliness of care. The primary outcome of the study was the appropriate administration of midazolam based on route and dose. We analyzed these secondary outcomes: frequency of seizure activity upon emergency department (ED) arrival, frequency of respiratory failure, and timeliness of care.

Results: We analyzed data for 533 actively seizing patients. Paramedics were more likely to administer at least one dose of midazolam after the protocol updates [127/208 (61%) vs. 232/325 (71%), p = 0.01, OR = 1.60 (95% CI: 1.10-2.30)]. Paramedics were also more likely to administer the first midazolam dose via the preferred intranasal (IN) or intramuscular (IM) routes after the protocol change [(63/208 (49%) vs. 179/325 (77%), p < 0.001, OR = 3.24 (2.01-5.21)]. Overall, paramedics administered midazolam approximately 14 min after their arrival, gave an incorrect weight-based dose to 130/359 (36%) patients, and gave a lower than recommended dose to 94/130 (72%) patients. Upon ED arrival, 152/533 (29%) patients had a recurrent or persistent seizure. Respiratory failure during EMS care or subsequently in the ED occurred in 90/533 (17%) patients.

Conclusions: Implementation of an evidence-based seizure protocol for EMS increased midazolam administration. Patients frequently received an incorrect weight-based dose. Future research should focus on optimizing administration of the correct dose of midazolam to improve seizure cessation.

Keywords: paramedics; pediatrics; seizures.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticonvulsants* / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / drug therapy


  • Anticonvulsants