Critical limits for emergency clinician notification at United States children's hospitals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Critical results demand rapid patient evaluation, possibly followed by life-saving intervention. A national survey of children's hospitals determined the critical limits used for emergency notification of critical laboratory results. Mean low and high critical limits for children for the tests listed most frequently were as follows (millimoles per liter): glucose, 2.6 and 24.7; potassium, 2.8 and 6.4; calcium, 1.62 and 3.17; and sodium, 121 and 156. For newborns, significantly different (P < .01) critical limits were glucose, 1.8 and 18.2; and potassium, 7.8. Hematology mean critical limits for children included hemoglobin, 69 and 208 g/L; platelets, 53 and 916 x 109/L; hematocrit, 0.20 and 0.62 L/L; and white blood cell counts, 2.1 and 42.9 x 109/L. Critical limits for pH were 7.21 and 7.59; for PCO2, 21 and 66 mm Hg; and for PO2, 45 and 124 mm Hg. Important qualitative critical results included blasts on the blood smear and abnormal cerebrospinal fluid findings. In comparison with other medical centers, children's hospitals maintained tighter critical limits for surveillance of renal function, hemostasis dysfunction, and newborn hypokalemia. Use of these results to eliminate outliers can help reduce unnecessary statim notification and improve resource utilization for the acute diagnosis and treatment of critically ill newborns and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-603
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991


  • critical limits
  • emergency notification
  • laboratory values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Critical limits for emergency clinician notification at United States children's hospitals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this