Bronchiolitis and High Flow Nasal Cannula

Furthermore, a large proportion of patients (>70%) randomized to LFNC were successfully managed without need for escalation to HFNC. Patients who did require escalation from LFNC to HFNC were safely rescued without an increase in ICU transfers or adverse events. These findings suggest that indiscriminate early – or routine – use of HFNC for moderate bronchiolitis does not provide clinical benefit.

In an effort to provide evidenced based and high value care, the Scottish Rite Emergency Department and Pediatric Hospital Medicine service are participating in an American Academy of Pediatrics national quality improvement collaborative to reduce the overutilization of HFNC in the treatment of mild-to-moderate bronchiolitis. Importantly, all bronchiolitis care will continue to be dictated by the treatment team, and patients who arrive in extremis or with a severe clinical respiratory score will continue to be managed with HFNC, noninvasive, or invasive mechanical ventilation as indicated. 

Some bronchiolitis patients admitted to the hospital, regardless of whether they received HFNC, will require nasogastric tube feedings at discharge due to inadequate oral intake and/or aspiration risk. This is particularly true for patients who required intubation and/or those with underlying comorbidities such as prematurity, hypotonia, developmental delay, hemodynamically significant cardiac disease, and chronic lung disease. Patients discharged with tube feedings due to inadequate intake often improve rapidly at home and are counseled to have the tube removed at home or by their primary care physician. Those with concerns for aspiration typically have an outpatient Speech Language Pathology visit about two weeks after discharge to determine whether tube feeding is still indicated.

Additional discharge instructions often include smaller but more frequent feeds while still congested and taking less by mouth, suctioning prior to feeds (e.g., saline drops and nasal aspirator), avoiding aggressive suctioning to prevent nasal trauma and edema, reassurance that coughing may continue for up to two weeks and cough medicines are not indicated, and emphasizing attentive hand washing to reduce viral transmission.

Dr. Courtney Charvat is a Pediatric Hospitalist at CHOA Egleston and co-leader of the national quality improvement collaborative, entitled “HI-FLO: High flow Interventions to Facilitate Less Overuse”. The project is run by the Value in Inpatient Pediatrics (VIP) Network within the American Academy of Pediatrics and includes 85 participating hospitals from the United States and Canada. 

Dr. Abby Williams is a Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician at CHOA Scottish Rite and is the local site leader for the HI-FLO quality improvement project.


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  2. Coon ER, Stoddard G, Brady PW. Intensive Care Unit Utilization After Adoption of a Ward-Based High-Flow Nasal Cannula Protocol. J Hosp Med. 2020;15(6):325-330. doi:10.12788/jhm.3417
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Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta resolves to ensure that its educational mission, and particularly its continuing medical education activities, are not influenced by the special interests of any corporation or individual associated with its activities.  While having a financial interest or professional affiliation with an ineligible company does not necessarily influence a speaker’s presentation, the standards of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education require that this relationship be disclosed to the audience.  Any relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies will be made known to participants at the beginning of the activity.

The following planners, faculty, and others in control of content have declared no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies:

Planning Committee

Kiesha Fraser Doh, MD

Thuy Bui, MD

Anthony Cooley, MD

Ashley Izydore Euler, CMP

Stacy Anderson


Courtney Charvat, MD

Abby Williams, MD

Angela Costa, MD

This resource does not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, policies, or procedures of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, its staff, or representatives.  This resource is for educational use only.  Children’s cannot and does not assume any responsibility for the use, misuse, or misapplication of any information provided by this resource.

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