Analysis of Adverse Events Associated With Adult Moderate Procedural Sedation Outside the Operating Room

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Moderate sedation outside the operating room is performed for a variety of medical and surgical procedures. It involves the administration of different drug combinations by nonanesthesia professionals. Few data exist on risk stratification and patient outcomes in the adult population. Current literature suggests that sedation can be associated with significant adverse outcomes.


The aims of this study were to evaluate the nature of adverse events associated with moderate sedation and to examine their relation to patient characteristics and outcomes.


In this retrospective review, 52 cases with moderate sedation safety incidents were identified out of approximately 143,000 cases during an 8-year period at a tertiary care medical center. We describe types of adverse events and the severity of associated harm. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to examine the links between event types and both patient and procedure characteristics.


The most common adverse event and unplanned intervention were oversedation leading to apnea (57.7% of cases) and the use of reversal agents (55.8%), respectively. Oversedation, hypoxemia, reversal agent use, and prolonged bag-mask ventilation were most common in cardiology (84.6%, 53.9%, 84.6%, and 38.5% of cases, respectively) and gastroenterology (87.5%, 75%, 87.5%, and 50%) suites. Miscommunication was reported most frequently in the emergency department (83.3%) and on the inpatient floor (69.2%). Higher body mass index was associated with increased rates of hypoxemia and intubation but lower rates of hypotension. Advanced age boosted the rates of oversedation, hypoxemia, and reversal agent use. Women were more likely than men to experience oversedation, hypotension, prolonged bag-mask ventilation, and reversal agent use. Patient harm was associated with age, body mass index, comorbidities, female sex, and procedures in the gastroenterology suite.


Providers should take into account patient characteristics and procedure types when assessing the risks of harmful sedation-related complications.

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