New guidelines, published in December by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, urge caution in anesthetizing children. Doctors and dentists who sedate children should be specially trained and use age-appropriate equipment. The special equipment should include emergency “crash carts” stocked with drugs and devices designed for young patients.
The guidelines reflect the need to closely monitor pediatric patients and to be prepared to respond quickly if their breathing becomes suppressed or other problems arise. The new guidelines were intended to address one of the most profound long-term trends in health care: the movement of surgical and diagnostic procedures into doctors’ and dentists’ offices. As a result, more children are receiving sedation outside of hospitals where specialized anesthesiologists are available to deal with life-threatening complications.