PALS stands for Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and it is a certification that you can get following BLS training if you frequently work with pediatric patients in life-threatening situations. It is particularly important for those working in pediatric ICUs, in children’s hospitals and in the pediatric sections of emergency rooms.

Even if you’re already familiar with the adult version of advanced life support, you will still want to spend plenty of time memorizing the most important PALS algorithms you’ll see on your certification examination. Many pediatric algorithms are slightly different from their adult counterparts because of the smaller size of these patients.

Most Important PALS Algorithms

Pediatric Cardiac Arrest is by far the most important PALS algorithm for you to learn. This algorithm begins with CPR before you must determine whether the child has a shockable rhythm. If the child is in V-fib or pulseless V-tach, you can provide CPR in between shocks.

However, PEA or asystole cannot be shocked. You can also give epinephrine through IV every three to five minutes as you continue CPR. Other things to remember with this algorithm is that you should be considering underlying, reversible causes of the arrest and that you should continually reevaluate the patient’s rhythm because it could change to a shockable rhythm at some point during CPR, especially after epinephrine, amiodarone or lidocaine are given.

Pediatric Tachycardia is another important algorithm, and you should realize that tachycardia in the pediatric age group is defined as anything above 110 to 140 depending on the age of the patient. Your first step will be to evaluate the patient to see whether he is stable or unstable while also identifying whether the QRS complex shows sinus tachycardia, supraventricular tachycardia or V-tach. Sinus tachycardia is usually treated by identifying underlying causes. Other types of tachycardia may require adenosine or synchronized cardioversion.

-Pediatric Bradycaria is nearly always dangerous because it can swiftly cause a decreased mental status, decreased blood pressure and even shock. Epinephrine and possibly atropine are the drugs of choice here, and the patient may require transvenous pacing to raise the heart rate.

Other PALS Algorithms to Study

While these three algorithms are the most important ones to know and will most likely appear on both the written test and in your mock scenarios, you should also memorize basic pediatric BLS as well as the Post-Resuscitation Care algorithm. You should also be familiar with common treatments for respiratory emergencies.

Tips for Memorizing Algorithms

Much of your study time for your PALS examination will be spent in simply memorizing the algorithms by rote. You may also want to work in a team with another test taker so that you can quiz each other. In addition, pay close attention to the mock scenarios used during your PALS certification training. These practice sessions will give you a good idea of how you will be tested and will also give you an excellent place to ask any questions you may have.

A PALS course will help you feel more comfortable as you work with your pediatric population. Whether you are a pediatrician, a bedside nurse, a nurse manager or another type of health care provider, this certification will give you the knowledge you need to respond quickly and correctly in emergencies.