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Hosp Pharm. 2013 Feb;48(2):134-42. doi: 10.1310/hpj4802-134.test.

Adverse events associated with procedural sedation in pediatric patients in the emergency department.

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Clinical Pharmacist, Department of Pharmacy, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, California.
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Associate Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, California.
Clinical Pharmacist, Emergency Medicine, Stanford Hospital and Clinics, Stanford, California.



To determine the agents used by emergency medicine (EM) physicians in pediatric procedural sedation and the associated adverse events (AEs) and to provide recommendations for optimizing drug therapy in pediatric patients.


We conducted a prospective study at Stanford Hospital's pediatric emergency department (ED) from April 2007 to April 2008 to determine the medications most frequently used in pediatric procedural sedation as well as their effectiveness and AEs. Patients, 18 years old or younger, who required procedural sedation in the pediatric ED were eligible for the study. The data collected included medical record number, sex, age, height, weight, procedure type and length, physician, and agents used. For each agent, the dose, route, time from administration to onset of sedation, duration of sedation, AEs, and sedation score were recorded. Use of supplemental oxygen and interventions during procedural sedation were also recorded.


We found that in a convenience sample of 196 children (202 procedures) receiving procedural sedation in a university-based ED, 8 different medications were used (ketamine, etomidate, fentanyl, hydromorphone, methohexital, midazolam, pentobarbital, and thiopental). Ketamine was the most frequently used medication (88%), regardless of the procedure. Only twice in the study was the medication that was initially used for procedural sedation changed completely. Fracture reduction was the most frequently performed procedure (41%), followed by laceration/suture repair (32%). There were no serious AEs reported.


EM-trained physicians can safely perform pediatric procedural sedation in the ED. In the pediatric ED, the most common procedure requiring conscious sedation is fracture reduction, with ketamine as the preferred agent.


adverse events; emergency department; ketamine; pediatric patients; procedural sedation

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