Pediatric emergency department triage-based pain guideline utilizing intranasal fentanyl: Effect of implementation

From the American Journal of Emergency Medicine:


Pain management guidelines in the emergency department (ED) may reduce time to analgesia administration (TTA). Intranasal fentanyl (INF) is a safe and effective alternative to intravenous opiates. The effect of an ED pain management guideline providing standing orders for nurse-initiated administration of intranasal fentanyl (INF) is not known. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of a pediatric ED triage-based pain protocol utilizing intranasal fentanyl (INF) on time to analgesia administration (TTA) and patient and parent satisfaction.


This was a prospective study of patients 3–17 years with an isolated orthopedic injury presenting to a pediatric ED before and after instituting a triage-based pain guideline allowing for administration of INF by triage nurses. Our primary outcome was median TTA and secondary outcomes included the proportion of patients who received INF for pain, had unnecessary IV placement, and patient and parent satisfaction.


We enrolled 132 patients; 72 pre-guideline, 60 post-guideline. Demographics were similar between groups. Median TTA was not different between groups (34.5 min vs. 33 min, p = .7). Utilization of INF increased from 41% pre-guideline to 60% post-guideline (p = .01) and unnecessary IV placement decreased from 24% to 0% (p = .002). Patients and parents preferred the IN route for analgesia administration.


A triage-based pain protocol utilizing INF did not reduce TTA, but did result in increased INF use, decreased unnecessary IV placement, and was preferred by patients and parents to IV medication. INF is a viable analgesia alternative for children with isolated extremity injuries.

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