Skip to main content

Safety profile of 1,008 cases of propofol sedation in the emergency department


Until recently there were no guidelines for the reporting of adverse events (AEs) during procedural sedation [1, 2]. A consensus document released in 2012 by the world SIVA International Sedation Task Force proposed a benchmark for defining AEs [3]. We analysed 1,008 cases of procedural sedation in the emergency department.


The study is based on 1,008 patients who received procedural sedation with propofol in the emergency department between December 2006 and March 2012. Patients were selected and sedated to a strict protocol by ED consultant staff. We applied the AE tool by performing a search through patient records, discussion with consultants performing the sedation and consensus opinion.


From 1,008 cases we identified 11 sentinel (six of hypotension, five cases of hypoxia), 34 moderate, 25 minor and three minimal risk adverse events.


The study shows a 1% adverse event rate. This supports use of propofol sedation by emergency physicians but within the limits of a strict governance framework. Our safety analysis using the World SIVA adverse events tool provides a reference point for further studies.


  1. 1.

    Green SM, Yealy DM: Procedural sedation goes Utstein: the Quebec guidelines. Ann Emerg Med 2009, 53: 436-438. 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2008.10.029

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Green SM, Krauss B: Barriers to propofol use in emergency medicine. Ann Emerg Med 2008, 52: 392-398. 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2007.12.002

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Mason KP, Green SM, Piacevoli Q, International Sedation Task Force: Adverse event reporting tool to standardize the reporting and tracking of adverse events during procedural sedation: a consensus document from the World SIVA International Sedation Task Force. Br J Anaesth 2012, 108: 13-20. 10.1093/bja/aer407

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to S Bradburn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bradburn, S., Lloyd, G. & Newstead, B. Safety profile of 1,008 cases of propofol sedation in the emergency department. Crit Care 17, P392 (2013).

Download citation


  • Emergency Department
  • Minimal Risk
  • Safety Analysis
  • Emergency Physician
  • Consensus Opinion