Recognizing Pediatric ARDS: Provider Use of the PALICC Recommendations in a Tertiary Pediatric ICU

Respir Care. 2022 Aug;67(8):985-994. doi: 10.4187/respcare.09806. Epub 2022 Jun 21.


Background: For almost 50 years, pediatricians used adult guidelines to diagnose ARDS. In 2015, specific criteria for pediatric ARDS were defined. However, it remains unclear how frequently providers recognize pediatric ARDS and whether recognition affects adherence to consensus recommendations.

Methods: This was a mixed-method, retrospective study of mechanically ventilated pediatric subjects after the release of the pediatric ARDS recommendation statement. Pediatric ARDS cases were identified according to the new criteria. Provider recognition was defined by documentation in the medical record. Pediatric ARDS subjects with and without provider recognition were compared quantitatively according to clinical characteristics, adherence to lung-protective ventilation (LPV), adjunctive therapies, and outcomes. A qualitative document analysis (QDA) was performed to evaluate knowledge and beliefs surrounding the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury Consensus Conference recommendations.

Results: Of 1,983 subject encounters, pediatric ARDS was identified in 321 (16%). Provider recognition was present in 97 (30%) cases and occurred more often in subjects who were older, had worse oxygenation deficits, or were bone marrow transplant recipients. Recognition rates increased each studied year. LPV practices did not differ based on provider recognition; however, subjects who received it were more likely to experience permissive hypoxemia and adherence to extrapulmonary recommendations. Ultimately, there was no differences in outcomes between the provider recognition and non-provider recognition groups. Three themes emerged from the QDA: (1) pediatric ARDS presents within a complex, multidimensional context, with potentially competing organ system failures; (2) similar to historical conceptualizations, pediatric ARDS was often considered a visual diagnosis, with measures of oxygenation unreferenced; and (3) emphasis was placed on non-evidence-based interventions, such as pulmonary clearance techniques, rather than on consensus recommendations.

Conclusions: Among mechanically ventilated children, pediatric ARDS was common but recognized in a minority of cases. Potential opportunities, such as an opt-out approach to LPV, may exist for improved dissemination and implementation of recommended best practices.

Keywords: ARDS; implementation science; mechanical ventilation; pediatrics; qualitative research; user-centered design.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome* / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies