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Pediatric behavioral health emergencies (BHE) are increasing in prevalence, yet there are no evidence-based guidelines or protocols for prehospital management. The primary objective of this scoping review is to identify prehospital-specific pediatric BHE research and publicly available emergency medical services (EMS) protocols for pediatric BHE. Secondary objectives include identifying the next priorities for research and EMS protocol considerations for children with neurodevelopmental conditions.

This is a scoping review comprised of a research literature search for publications from 2012-2022 and an internet search for publicly available EMS protocols from the United States. Included publications contain data on the epidemiology of pediatric BHE or describe prehospital management of pediatric BHE. EMS protocols were included if they had advisements specific to pediatric BHE.

A total of 50 research publications and EMS protocols from 43 states were screened. Seven publications and four protocols were included in this study. Research studies indicated an increase in pediatric BHE over the last decade, but few papers discuss current prehospital management (n=4). Two EMS protocols were specific to pediatric BHE or pediatric agitation, and the other two EMS protocols focused on adult populations with integrated pediatric recommendations. All four EMS protocols encouraged nonpharmaceutical interventions prior to the use of pharmacologic restraints.

Although there is a substantial rise in pediatric BHE, there is sparse research data and clinical EMS protocols to support best practices for prehospital pediatric BHE management. This scoping review identifies important future research aims to inform best practices for the prehospital management of pediatric BHE.


© 2023 Zorovich et al.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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