Prolonged fasting of children before anaesthesia is common in private practice

Y. Buller, Craig Sims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Fasting guidelines for children are well established. Despite these guidelines, previous studies have shown children are often fasted for prolonged periods before anaesthesia, potentially causing discomfort and distress. Moreover, recent publications indicate shorter fasting times for oral clear fluids in children may be safe. We audited fasting times of children having elective surgery at a local large private hospital that provides care for both adults and children. We gave feedback and education to our caregivers, then repeated the audit. Data were collected from 307 children (age 6.0 +/- 4.1 years) in an initial eight-week audit, and from 153 children (age 6.7 +/- 4.5 years) in a follow-up four-week audit. We found fasting durations were excessive in many children. Sixty-two percent of children in each audit fasted longer than four hours for clear fluids. Children on morning lists fasted longer than children on afternoon lists. Fasting from solids was also excessively long. In the initial audit, 30% fasted more than 12 hours for solids, including 18 who last ate more than 16 hours before surgery. Data from the follow-up audit were similar. We conclude that fasting of children at our hospital is excessive, despite our efforts to shorten the duration. We suspect that our hospital is not the only one with a high incidence of prolonged fasting for children and suggest possible solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-110
Number of pages4
JournalAnaesthesia and Intensive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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