Associate Professor

Conor McDonnell

The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5G 1X8
Research Interests
chronic pain, quality improvement
Clinical Interests
obstructive sleep apnoea, perioperative patient management, transplant anesthesia
contact faculty member for more information

Research Synopsis

Dr. McDonnell’s two main research pathways are within the field of patient safety & quality assurance. His first focus is opioid and tenfold drug error throughout pediatric hospital medicine. The long-term goal is to abolish harmful pediatric medication errors which he sees coming to fruition through a mixture of: 1) root –cause investigation of at-risk practices, drugs, and, system weaknesses; 2) innovative solutions that utilize informatics, interactive applications and technology; and 3) reduction of complexity and redundancies within hospital medication processes. His second focus is the design and performance of quality improvement projects within the Department of Anesthesia & Pain Medicine. These are suggested by the data collected within the department’s quality & safety program and have been implemented throughout many different facets of clinical pediatric anesthesia practice.

Dr. McDonnell is currently investigating the effects of sleep-disturbed breathing (obstructive sleep apnea, central hypoventilation) on outcomes within pediatric anesthesia practice. He collaborates with research colleagues from respiratory medicine, sleep clinic and otolaryngology, and has recently been appointed as a member on the Society for Anesthesia & Sleep Medicine Pediatric Committee in order to continue such work. 

Dr. McDonnell’s previous work investigated the development and management of opioid-induced hyperalgesia in post-surgical pediatric populations and continue to investigate factors that may improve our ability to predict patients at risk of developing severe postoperative pain that ultimately transition to chronic persistent pain. 


Recent Publications


  1. Victoria Howell, Amanda Schwartz, James O’Leary, Conor Mc Donnell. The effect of the SQUIRE (Standards of QUality Improvement Reporting Excellence) guidelines on reporting standards in the quality improvement literature: A before-and-after study. British Medical Journal Quality & Safety. 2015 Jan 25. Impact Factor 3.28. Senior Responsible Author.
  2. 2.C Doherty, C Mc Donnell. Tenfold medication errors: 5 years’ experience at a university-affiliated pediatric hospital. Pediatrics. Pediatrics peds. 2011-2526; 2012 May; 129(5):916-24. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2526. Impact Factor 5.4. Senior Responsible Author.
  3. C Matava, C Pehora, B Naser, M Crawford, C Mc Donnell. Early Postoperative Patient-Controlled Analgesia Ratio Predicts 24-hour Morphine Consumption and Pain in Children Undergoing Scoliosis Surgery. Journal of Opioid Management. 2014 Jan;10(1):39-45. Senior Responsible Author.
  4. 4.C Mc Donnell, C Pehora, M Crawford. PCA-derived factors that may be predictive of post-operative pain in pediatric patients - A possible role for the PCA ratio. Journal of Opioid Management. 2012 Jan-Feb; 8(1):39-44. Principal Author.
  5. C Mc Donnell. Opioid medication errors in pediatric practice: Four year’s experience of voluntary safety reporting. Pain Research & Management. Pain Research & Management 2011; 16(2): 93-98. Senior Responsible Author.



Staff Anesthesiologist (Dept. of Anesthesia & Pain Medicine (HSC))
Project Investigator (Research Institute, HSC)
Chair of Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Program (Dept. of Anesthesia & Pain Medicine (HSC)) 
Chair Medication Safety Committee (HSC)
University of Toronto Centre for Quality Improvement & Patient Safety (Core Faculty Member)
Canadian Pediatric Anesthesiology Society Scientific Committee (Member)
Canadian Pediatric Anesthesiology Society Annual Meeting 2015 (Organizing Chair)
Society for Pediatric Anesthesia International Safety & Quality Committee (Member)
International Conference on Opioids (Organizing Committee Member)



Course Number: Patient Safety & Quality Improvement Rounds
Course Name: PGY 2 Anesthesiology Residents
Course Number: HSC Dept of Anesthesia Quality Rounds
Course Name: PGY 4 Residents & Fellows
Course Number: ICU Topics for Pediatric Anesthesia (Traumatic Brain Injury, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia)
Course Name: Formal Rounds HSC Dept of Anesthesia Residents & Fellows
Course Number: University of Toronto Problem-Based Learning
Course Name: Year 2 Clinical Clerks