What is the risk of aspiration minimized during sedation?

Updated: Nov 06, 2018
  • Author: Arul M Lingappan, MD; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Though the risk of aspiration is small, it is real and potentially fatal, and it must be balanced against the patient comfort and safety afforded by procedural sedation. To this end, Green et al recommend a 4-step assessment to minimize aspiration. [34] They first suggest risk stratification of patients based on individual risk. Oral intake is quantified, as is the urgency of the procedure, and a consensus-based opinion is given for the appropriate level of sedation. [34] For instance, a high risk patient who ate a light snack and needs a semi-urgent procedure should receive minimal sedation only. Though this assessment is based on consensus from leading emergency medicine researchers and definitions of certain groups are vague, it gives a general guideline to follow. Of course, no guideline should replace sound clinical judgment.

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