Objective: To introduce a protocol for dissociative sedation using ketamine for children requiring painful procedures within the emergency department.
Method: A medical literature search was performed along with a review of existing ketamine-use protocols in emergency departments from Australia and the United States. Our hospital anaesthetic department and our emergency department nursing staff were closely involved in protocol design. A series of nursing education sessions were held prior to the drug being used within the emergency department. Twenty-eight children aged 1.5-12 years were administered ketamine sedation prior to undergoing a painful procedure. Ketamine was administered either i.m. (dose 3-4 mg/kg) or i.v. (dose 1.00-2.75 mg/kg) depending on physician preference. Midazolam (dose 0.02 mg/kg) and atropine (dose 0.02 mg/kg) were given as adjuncts in the majority of cases.
Results: Onset of sedation was rapid (range 1-7 min) for both routes and provided excellent procedural conditions. Discharge time averaged 103 min (range 67-180 min) from time of drug administration. Side-effects included vomiting, rash, diplopia, salivation and one case of a distressing emergence reaction. On telephone follow up 1-3 days after the sedation, no delayed adverse events were reported.
Conclusion: Ketamine is a safe and effective sedative agent for use in children requiring immobilization to enable performance of a painful procedure. It is important to involve both anaesthetic staff and emergency department nursing staff in sedation protocol development to ensure a smooth introduction. We present a protocol for ketamine use in children undergoing painful procedures within the emergency department.