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Although procedural sedation for cardioversion is a common event in emergency departments (EDs), there is limited evidence surrounding medication choices. We sought to evaluate geographic and temporal variation in sedative choice at multiple Canadian sites, and to estimate the risk of adverse events due to sedative choice.
This is a secondary analysis of one health records review, the Recent Onset Atrial Fibrillation or Flutter-0 (RAFF-0 [n=420, 2008]) and one prospective cohort study, the Recent Onset Atrial Fibrillation or Flutter-1 (RAFF-1 [n=565, 2010 – 2012]) at eight and six Canadian EDs, respectively. Sedative choices within and among EDs were quantified, and the risk of adverse events was examined with adjusted and unadjusted comparisons of sedative regimes.
In RAFF-0 and RAFF-1, the combination of propofol and fentanyl was most popular (63.8% and 52.7%) followed by propofol alone (27.9% and 37.3%). There were substantially more adverse events in the RAFF-0 data set (13.5%) versus RAFF-1 (3.3%). In both data sets, the combination of propofol/fentanyl was not associated with increased adverse event risk compared to propofol alone.
There is marked variability in procedural sedation medication choice for a direct current cardioversion in Canadian EDs, with increased use of propofol alone as a sedation agent over time. The risk of adverse events from procedural sedation during cardioversion is low but not insignificant. We did not identify an increased risk of adverse events with the addition of fentanyl as an adjunctive analgesic to propofol.