Posttraumatic distress in children and families after intubation

Pediatr Emerg Care. 1997 Jun;13(3):222-4. doi: 10.1097/00006565-199706000-00013.


Background: Posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms are seen in children who have experienced significant trauma. Respiratory arrest with subsequent intubation can be associated with terror, helplessness, and the threat of death.

Methods: Three case reports are presented where emergency intubation was followed by symptoms of psychologic distress in the intubated child and his or her family members.

Results: Although the medical literature documents posttraumatic distress symptoms after other medical procedures, this is the first account of symptoms following intubation. Children and other family members were found to have symptoms of reexperiencing the traumatic event, avoidance of thoughts or feelings related to the intubation, and hyperarousal. Issues around diagnosis and treatment are discussed.

Conclusions: Children with a history of emergency intubation should be evaluated for possible posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / psychology*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*