Why is it so important to know about respiratory failure in children?
Children are at greater risk of respiratory failure than adults, so identifying those at risk, and intervening before respiratory failure occurs, is a critically important skill for pediatric clinicians. Respiratory symptoms are among the most common reasons children are taken to emergency departments (EDs), and respiratory diseases are the most frequent cause of cardiopulmonary arrest. The potential for progression of respiratory distress to respiratory failure necessitates prompt and careful evaluation of children with respiratory symptoms. Much of the morbidity and mortality risk from respiratory disease in children can be prevented by competent pediatric emergency care.
How is respiratory failure defined? When does respiratory distress become respiratory failure ?
A general definition of respiratory failure is inadequate oxygenation to meet metabolic needs or inadequate excretion of CO 2 . Many specific definitions have been proposed, but the best clinicians individualize their decisions about therapy according to the particulars of the case. One definition of respiratory failure is P o 2 less than 60 mm Hg or O 2 saturation less than 93% or more than 60% oxygen, P co 2 more than 60 mm Hg and rising, or clinical apnea.