Objective: To determine the safety and effectiveness of intravenous (IV) etomidate for the sedation of patients undergoing painful procedures in the emergency department (ED).
Methods: A two-part feasibility study for ED patients receiving IV etomidate for painful ED procedures was undertaken. In the initial phase, a retrospective series of patients receiving etomidate for ED procedural sedation was considered. This phase served as the basis for a descriptive, prospective feasibility study of consecutive ED patients. During the second phase, patients were evaluated for complications related to IV etomidate sedation or the procedure performed. Immediately following the procedure, the physician was asked to complete a data collection sheet documenting the patient's etomidate dose, the number of doses required to complete the procedure, the analgesic used, the complications of the procedure, and the patient's procedural recall.
Results: Intravenous etomidate was administered to nine patients during the initial study phase and 51 during the prospective, descriptive phase. Indications for sedation included dislocation reduction (25), cardioversion (7), fracture reduction (20), abscess incision and drainage (4), foreign body removal (3), and chest thoracostomy (1). Physicians used 0.1-mg/kg IV bolus etomidate. A mean of 1.6 doses of etomidate was used to complete procedures (range 1-3 doses). Of the 60 patients in both study groups, 59 (98%) achieved adequate sedation by physician's assessment. Procedural success was documented for 56 patients (93%). There were 12 complications reported: oxygen desaturation below 90% (5), myoclonus (4), vomiting (1), pain with injection (1), and a brief bradycardic episode (1). No patient required assistance with ventilation or endotracheal intubation.
Conclusions: Intravenous etomidate can be administered safely and effectively to provide appropriate conscious sedation for short, painful ED procedures.