Year: 2023 Source: Academic Emergency Medicine. (2023). 1-10. DOI: 10.1111/acem.14754. SIEC No: 20231754

Background: Behavioral health crises in pediatric emergency department (ED) patients are increasingly common. Chemical restraints can be utilized for patients who present imminent danger to self or others. We sought to describe the use of intravenous (IV)/intramuscular (IM) chemical restraints for pediatric behavioral health ED patients across a nationwide sample of hospitals and describe factors associated with restraint use.

Methods: This was a retrospective study of patients ages 8-17 treated at 822 EDs contributing data to the Premier Healthcare Database between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2020, with a behavioral health discharge diagnosis. The primary outcome was the use of IV/IM chemical restraint medication. We developed a hierarchical model to examine patient and hospital-level factors associated with treatment with IV/IM chemical restraint medications.

Results: Of 630,384 cases, 4.8% received IV/IM chemical restraint. Patient factors associated with higher odds of chemical restraint were older age (ages 13-17 years [adjusted odds ratio {AOR} 1.53, 95% confidence interval {CI} 1.48-1.58]), anxiety disorders (AOR 1.69, 95% CI 1.64-1.74), disruptive disorders (AOR 1.61, 95% CI 1.53-1.69), suicide/self-injury (AOR 1.3, 95% CI 1.26-1.34), substance use (AOR 1.24, 95% CI 1.20-1.28), and bipolar disorder (AOR 1.23, 95% CI 1.17-1.30). Participants with complex comorbidities were more likely to receive chemical restraint (AOR 1.32, 95% CI 1.26-1.39). After patient and hospital factors were adjusted for, the median OR indicating the influence of the individual hospital on the odds of chemical restraint was 1.43 (95% CI 1.40-1.47).

Conclusions: We found that age and certain behavioral health diagnoses were associated with receipt of IV/IM chemical restraint during pediatric behavioral health ED visits. Additionally, whether a patient was treated with chemical restraints was strongly influenced by the hospital to which they presented for treatment.