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JOURNAL ARTICLE

ED procedural sedation of elderly patients: is it safe?

Christopher S Weaver, Kevin M Terrell, Robert Bassett, William Swiler, Beth Sandford, Sara Avery, Anthony J Perkins
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2011, 29 (5): 541-4
20825829

OBJECTIVE: Emergency physicians routinely perform emergency department procedural sedation (EDPS), and its safety is well established. We are unaware of any published reports directly evaluating the safety of EDPS in older patients (≥65 years old). Many EDPS experts consider seniors to be at higher risk. The objective was to evaluate the complication rate of EDPS in elderly adults.

METHODS: This was a prospective, observational study of EDPS patients at least 65 years old, as compared with patients aged 18 to 49 and 50 to 64 years. Physicians were blind to the objectives of this research. The study protocol required an ED nurse trained in data collection to be present to record vital signs and assess for any prospectively defined complications. We used American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status classification for systemic disease to evaluate and account for the comorbidities of patients. We used the Fisher exact test for the difference in proportions across age groups and analysis of variance for the differences in dosing across age and ASA categories.

RESULTS: During the 4-year study, we enrolled 50 patients at least 65 years old, 149 patients aged 50 to 64 years, and 665 patients aged 18 to 49 years. Adverse event rates were 8%, 5.4%, and 5.2%, respectively (P = .563). The at least 65 years age group represented a greater percentage of those with higher ASA scores (P < .001). The average total sedative dose in the at least 65 years group was significantly lower than the comparisons (P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated no statistically significant difference in complication rate for patients 65 years or older. There was a significant decrease in mean sedation dosing with increased age and ASA score.

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