UK children sedation guideline

Despite the huge number of articles in the literature on paediatric sedation, one still encounters acrimonious debates about the appropriateness of non-anaesthetists doing it. How refreshing then, to see that the UK’s National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (“NICE”) has tackled this subject and come up with some reasonable recommendations. I’ve as yet only read the summary, but some of the good things are:

  • No unachievable ‘two doctors present’ rule: ‘Two trained healthcare professionals should be available during sedation
  • Differentiating painless imaging from painful procedures
  • Monitoring standards that are appropriate for the age of child and depth of sedation (no mandatory blood pressure or ECG monitoring unless deep sedation; end-tidal capnography in deep sedation).
  • Acknowledgement of the special features of ketamine: ‘Ketamine is a dissociative agent: the state of dissociative sedation cannot be readily categorised as either moderate or deep sedation; the drug is considered to have a wide margin of safety.’
  • Recognition that specialists other than anaesthetists may have specialist sedation and airway skills

There are some rather conservative recommendations on fasting, although the wording of the guideline in my interpretation allows some flexibility if ketamine is used for an emergency procedure.

Sedation in children and young people
National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence

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