Procedural sedation in children in the emergency department: a PREDICT study

Emerg Med Australas. 2009 Feb;21(1):71-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2008.01150.x.


Objective: To investigate current procedural sedation practice and compare clinical practice guidelines (CPG) for procedural sedation at Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT) sites. This will determine areas for improvement and provide baseline data for future multicentre studies.

Methods: A questionnaire of specialist emergency physicians regarding demographics, general procedural sedation practice and specific sedation agents given to children. CPG for general sedation and sedation agents were obtained for each site.

Results: Seventy-five (71%) useable surveys returned from 105 potential respondents. Most commonly used agents were nitrous oxide (N(2)O) (75, 100%), ketamine (total 72, 96%; i.v. 59, 83% and i.m. 22, 31%) and midazolam (total 68, 91%; i.v. 52, 81%, oral 47, 73%, intranasal 26, 41% and i.m. 6, 9%). Sedation was used for therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. Forty-three (57%) used formal sedation records and sedation checklists and thirty-one (41%) respondents reported auditing sedations. Four sites ran staff education and competency programmes. Nine sites had general sedation CPG, eight for ketamine, nine for N(2)O, eight for midazolam (four parenteral, five oral and six intranasal) and three for fentanyl. No site had a guideline for propofol administration.

Conclusion: Procedural sedation in this research network commonly uses N(2)O, ketamine and midazolam for a wide range of procedures. Areas of improvement are the lack of guidelines for certain agents, documentation, staff competency training and auditing processes. Multicentre research could close gaps in terms of age cut-offs, fasting times and optimal indications for various agents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Administration, Oral
  • Anesthesia, Inhalation
  • Anesthesia, Intravenous
  • Anesthetics, General / administration & dosage
  • Australia
  • Biomedical Research / organization & administration
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Conscious Sedation / instrumentation*
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Emergency Medicine / methods
  • Emergency Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Information Services / organization & administration
  • Ketamine / administration & dosage
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage
  • New Zealand
  • Nitrous Oxide / administration & dosage
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*


  • Anesthetics, General
  • Ketamine
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Midazolam