Audit of the safety and effectiveness of ketamine for procedural sedation in the emergency department
Emergency Medicine Journal 2008;25:579-582; doi:10.1136/emj.2007.056200
Aim: To examine the effectiveness and safety of the sedative agents used in the emergency department following the introduction of ketamine as an agent for procedural sedation
Methods: A 2-year prospective audit of sedation practice was undertaken. This specifically examined the rationale behind a doctor’s choice of sedative agent, the depth of sedation achieved, adverse events and the time taken to regain full orientation.
Results: 210 patients were included of whom 85 (40%) were given ketamine, 107 (51%) midazolam and 18 (9%) propofol. The median time to full orientation was 25 min for ketamine, 30 min for midazolam and 10 min for propofol. Complications occurred in 15.9% of sedations overall (14.6% of those given ketamine, 15.8% given midazolam and 22.2% given propofol). Apnoea and hypoxia most often occurred with midazolam and propofol, while hypertension and hypertonicity were encountered more frequently with ketamine. In addition, 19.5% of patients given ketamine suffered the re-emergence phenomenon. The association between deep sedation with no response to pain and adverse events encountered with midazolam does not occur with ketamine.
Conclusions: Ketamine is both safe and effective and compares favourably with midazolam as an agent for procedural sedation in the emergency department. Although the re-emergence phenomenon occurred, no psychological sequelae were encountered after return to full orientation. Ketamine may be particularly useful in groups of patients at high risk of adverse effects with midazolam.