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Emerg Med Australas. 2011 Aug;23(4):474-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2011.01420.x. Epub 2011 May 17.

Factors associated with failure to successfully complete a procedure during emergency department sedation.

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Liverpool Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



To determine factors associated with failure to successfully complete a procedure during sedation in the ED.


Eleven Australian EDs enrolled consecutive adult and paediatric patients between January 2006 and December 2008. Patients were included if a sedative drug was administered for an ED procedure and the success or failure of the procedure was recorded.


Data were available for 2567 patients. Of these, 1548 (60.3%, 95% CI 58.4-62.2) were male and 456 (17.8%, 95% CI 16.3-19.3) were age <16 years. The most common procedures performed were reduction of major joints and laceration repair. A total of 149 procedures (5.8%, 95% CI 5.0-6.8) failed. There were significant differences in failure rates between the types of procedure undertaken, with reduction of hips, digits and mandibles associated with the highest failure rates (P < 0.001). In adults, body weight >100 kg was also associated with increased risk of procedural failure (odds ratio 2.3, 95% CI 1.3-4.1). Ketamine used as a single agent had the lowest procedural failure rate (2.5%, 95% CI 1.1-5.4) whereas propofol had the highest (5.9%, 95% CI 4.6-7.6). However, these two drugs were generally used in different age groups and for different procedures.


Procedures performed under sedation in the ED have a low failure rate. However, increased body weight and specific procedures, such as hip reduction, are associated with significantly higher failure rates. Special consideration should be given to these patient groups before undertaking sedation in the ED.

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