Integration of Certified Child Life Specialists to Decrease in Periprocedural Benzodiazepine Use: A Pilot Study

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Journal of Surgical Research


Introduction: Periprocedural anxiety is common in pediatric patients and is characterized by tension, anxiety, irritability, and autonomic activation. Periprocedural anxiety increases during certain events including admission to the preoperative area, separation from caregivers, induction of anesthesia, and IV placement. A study of children aged 2-12 showed that perioperative anxiety in children may be influenced by high parental anxiety and low sociability of the child. While these are nonmodifiable variables in the perioperative setting, there are numerous ways to ameliorate both parental and patient anxiety including the use of certified child life specialists (CCLSs) to aid in child comfort. In this study, our objective was to evaluate the integration of CCLS in our perioperative setting on the rate of benzodiazepine use. Methods: We used a prospectively maintained database to identify patients undergoing outpatient elective surgical and radiologic procedures from July 2022 to September 2023 and January 2023 to September 2023 respectively. CCLSs were used to work with appropriately aged children in order to decrease the use of benzodiazepines and reduce possible adverse events associated with their use. Results: A total of 2175 pediatric patients were seen by CCLS in same day surgery from July 2022 to September 2023. During this period, midazolam use decreased by an average of 11.4% (range 6.2%-19.3%). An even greater effect was seen in the radiologic group with 73% reduction. No adverse events were reported during this period. Conclusions: CCLSs working with age-appropriate patients in the periprocedural setting is a useful adjunct in easing anxiety in pediatric patients, reducing the need for periprocedural benzodiazepine administration and the risk of exposure to unintended side effects.

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