Decreasing pre-procedural fasting times in hospitalized children

J Hosp Med. 2022 Feb;17(2):96-103. doi: 10.1002/jhm.12782. Epub 2022 Feb 14.


Objective: Prolonged pre-procedural fasting in children is associated with decreased patient and family satisfaction and increased patient hemodynamic instability. Practice guidelines recommend clear liquid fasting times of 2 h. We aimed to decrease pre-procedural clear liquid fasting time from 10 h 13 min to 5 h for pediatric hospital medicine (PHM) patients.

Methods: All children admitted to the PHM service at a quaternary care children's hospital with an NPO (nil per os) order associated with a procedure requiring general anesthesia or sedation from November 2, 2017 to September 19, 2021 were included. The primary outcome measure was the average time from clear liquid fasting end time to anesthesia start time. The process measure was the percent of NPO orders including a documented clear liquid fasting end time. Balancing measures were aspiration events and case delays/cancellations. Statistical process control charts were used to analyze outcomes.

Results: Shortly after implementation of a SmartPhrase in the NPO order, there was special cause variation resulting in a centerline shift from a mean of 10 h 13 min to 6 h 37 min and an increase in the process measure from a baseline of 2%-52%. Following implementation of a hospital-wide change to the NPO order format, another centerline shift to 6 h 7 min occurred which has been sustained for 6 months. No aspiration events and four NPO violations occurred during the intervention period.

Conclusion: Quality improvement methodology and higher reliability interventions safely decreased the average pre-procedural fasting time in hospitalized children.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • Fasting*
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results