EMCrit Podcast 29 – Procedural Sedation, Part II

It seems the government and other specialties are trying hard to make sedation as difficult as possible in the ED. We must persevere to provide the best procedural sedation to allow maximal comfort and safety for our patients. This continues the discussion started in Part I, where we discussed etomidate, ketamine, and versed/fentanyl. In this podcast, I discuss propofol, ketofol, and dexmedetomidine.

the emcrit procedural sedation chapter has tons of references for all of this


great propofol articles:

Ann Emerg Med 2008;52:392-398
Ann Emerg Med. 2007;50:182-187

Start with fentanyl 1-1.5 mcg/kg

Then give propofol 0.5-1 mg/kg

may need additional injections of 0.5 mg/kg

When patient is where you want them, begin the procedure

May need to give additional 20-30 mgs if the patient becomes too light

Burns on injection, you can precede with 20-40 mg of lidocaine to numb the vessels


read more here: (Ann Emerg Med. 2007;49:23-30)

1:1 mix of ketamine and propofol

In 20 ml syringe, place 10 ml of propofol (10 mg/ml)

And 10 ml of ketamine at a concentration of 10 mg/ml

Note: your ketamine may come in a different concentration, if so dilute down to 10 ml of 10 mg/ml

Shake like a martini


Precede with fentanyl 1 mcg/kg

Start with 0.5-1 mcg/kg over 10 minutes for loading dose

then use an infusion 0f 0.2-1 mcg/kg/hr

Beware in the bradycardic, hypotensive or patients with heart blocks

May need to supplement with 1-2 mg of midazolam

Procedural Sedation Checklist

here it is

Stay tuned for part III coming to you some time in the future.


Procedural Sedation, Part I (Audio Only)

The audio only version of Part I of the sedation talk.

Remember to check out Part II next…


Procedural Sedation – Part I

It seems the government and other specialties are trying hard to make sedation as difficult as possible in the ED. We must persevere to provide the best procedural sedation for the maximal comfort and safety for our patients. This brief lecture was originally posted on the defunct EMCrit Lecture Site on 8/7/2009.

I’m reposting it here so I can post part II sometime this week.

This episode, Part I, covers general concepts on sedation as well as ketamine and etomidate/fentanyl.

Part II will cover propofol, ketofol, and dexmedetomidine.

Part III, to be done some time in the future, will cover really difficult sedations.

My friend Reub Strayer has a great PSA checklist as well





EMCrit Podcast 21 – A Bad Sedation Package Leaves your Patient Trapped in a Nightmare

Pushing some ativan followed by vecuronium is no longer an acceptable strategy to manage post-intubation sedation. A good analgesia and sedation package is essential if you care about your patient’s comfort and well-being. We need to move to PAIN-FIRST paradigm. Optimize analgesia and then add in sedative agents as a bonus. In this episode of the EMCrit Podcast, I expand on a previous rant to discuss the optimal way to handle routine post-intubation patients and some special scenarios you may encounter.

The Routine

Here is the Lancet Article I mentioned:

(A protocol of no sedation for critically ill patients receiving mechanical ventilation: a randomised trial)

Post-Intubation patients are in pain b/c they have a piece of rigid plastic jammed down their throats and b/c we do a lot of evil-seeming stuff to them in the ED.

Give them a bolus of fentanyl or morphine as soon as you complete the intubation (or better yet, with your RSI drugs)

Fentanyl Protocol
Morphine Protocol

Only when you have a calm, relaxed, but fully awake patient, add on a touch of sedative for hypnosis, amnesia, and anxiolysis.

Use a sedation scale like RASS.

Special Scenarios

1. Hypotensive Medical Patient-the patient’s blood pressure is never too low to get adequate pain control and sedation. Start them on a pressor and give them comfort. Fentanyl/versed is probably a good combination. Maybe in the future ketamine/versed.

2. Delerium Tremens-these patients need GABA first. My patients have already received 200-400 mg of diazepam before getting intubated so more benzos will probably not help. Use propofol/fentanyl. If propofol is not available, use versed/fentanyl/phenobarbital. Here is a DT protocol that encompasses phenobarb. Also see my DT Podcast.

3. Neurocritically Ill Patients-aka the head bleeds. This one is for Mike, a flight medic. Fentanyl/propofol is the way to go for these patients. Take them deep during the first 24 hours or so. Treat pain and sedation needs first, before add anti-hypertensives; their blood pressure may come down when you treat their pain. If you are transferring these patients, have a very low threshold to intubate, leaving them on propofol/fentanyl. WHen the receiving hospital gets the patient, they can easily extubate them if you used these medications.

Here is my extubation article.

4. Hypotensive Trauma Patients-this pertains to trauma patients hypotensive because of hemorrhagic shock.  I get a bunch of ketamine and a bunch of fentanyl. If their MAP > 65 then I give 25 mcg of fentanyl. Wait a couple of minutes and if still > 65, give some more. If their MAP < 65, I give 10-15 mg of ketamine. Keep going with this until your patient looks good.

Additional References:

Payen JF, Chanques G, Mantz J, Hercule C, Auriant I, Leguillou JL, Binhas M, Genty C, Rolland C, Bosson JL. Current practices in sedation and analgesia for mechanically ventilated critically ill patients: a prospective multicenter patient-based study. Anesthesiology 2007; 106: 687–95.

Rozendaal FW, Spronk PE, Snellen FF, Schoen A, van Zanten AR, Foudraine NA, Mulder PGH, Bakker J. Remifentanil-propofol analgo-sedation shortens duration of ventilation and length of ICU stay compared to a conventional regimen: a centre randomised, cross-over, open-label study in the Netherlands. Intensive Care Med 2009; 35: 291–8.

Gelinas C, Johnston C. Pain assessment in the critically ill ventilated adult: validation of the Critical-Care Pain Observation Tool and physiologic indicators. Clin J Pain 2007; 23: 497–505.

Gelinas C. Management of pain in cardiac surgery ICU patients: have we improved over time? Intensive Crit Care Nurs 2007; 23: 298–303.

photo by brentbat

EMCrit Podcast 20 – The Crashing Atrial Fibrillation Patient

Your patient is pale and diaphoretic. Blood pressure is 70/50. Heart rate is 178. EKG shows atrial fibrillation… What are you going to do???

Yeah, yeah the Pavlovian ACLS response–You cardiovert. Wonderful, except it didn’t change a thing. Now what?

In this episode, I discuss the crashing atrial fibrillation patient.


If the patient is chronically in atrial fib, the shock rarely works. Your patient is unstable, so you decide to give it a shot. You might as well give yourself the best chance of success, so go right for 360 J on monophasic, or equivalently high on your biphasic. This will not cause more injury than lower joules (Heart 1998, 80:3 and Resuscitation 1998;36:193). PA is probably better than AA if you have pads. Make sure the synch is on.

You need to give your patient something to disguise the fact that you are electrocuting them. Yet you don’t want to drop their pressure. Ketamine is ok in disassociative dosing, but then your patient is loopy and you lose your mental status exam. Consider 5-7 mg of etomidate along with a pain dose of ketamine, 10-15 mg.

Screen for WPW

If you have a. fib with a wide QRS and a rate > 250-300, be scared, very scared. This is WPW and these patients just love to ruin your day by going into v. fib. Shock early, shock often, light them up.

Get the BP Up

So you made sure it’s not WPW and the cardioversion has failed, as it so often does in chronic a. fib. Now you need to raise the BP before anything else. Use push-dose phenylephrine. 50-200 mcg every minute or so until you get the blood pressure above a diastolic of 60; this will temporize the situation and make the patient’s heart more likely to slow down.

Though things look better, you have not really fixed the problem, you have just temporized.

Slow them them down

Give either amiodarone 150 mg bolus and then the drip (may repeat the bolus x 1)


Use diltiazem, but not as a push. Drip it in at 2.5 mg/minute until HR < 100 or you get to 50 mg. (Resuscitation 52:167, 2002) See here for more.

Still not working?

  • Consider magnesium
  • Consider reshocking
  • Consider cardiology consult
  • Consider something else is going on
  • Consider signing out to one of your colleagues and running away

EMCrit Podcast 19 – Non-Invasive Ventilation

Intubation is a sexy procedure, there is no doubt about it.

NIV does not have the glamour; it’s not nearly as cinematic. But for the patient, to spend 30 minutes on a NIV mask is preferable to a couple of days on the ventilator. In this episode, I discuss some of the basic ideas and methods of NIV.

It is pretty simple as the mode only has 3 main settings:

FiO2 – set based on oxygen requirements, just like on the vent

PEEP/EPAP/CPAP – all the same thing, set this based on OXYGENATION needs. If the patient’s sat is low, start at 5 cm H20 and titrate up to 15-17 as needed.

PSV/IPAP – this setting is for ventilation. If your patient does not have ventilation problems, they don’t need PSV. If they do, start at 5 cm H20 and titrate to 15-17.

Yes, that’s right, I did not tell you to put every patient at 10/5. Very few of your patients will have both ventilatory and oxygenation problems. Asthma and COPD need inspiratory support. APE, atelectasis, pneumonia patients need PEEP.

I also talk about sedation while a patient is on NIV.