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Ketamine sedation for patients with acute agitation and psychiatric illness requiring aeromedical retrieval


Objective Aeromedical retrieval services face the difficult problem of appropriate levels of sedation for transport of acutely agitated patients to definitive care. This paper describes a technique using ketamine, which is titratable and avoids problems associated with airway management.

Method A 3-year review of a new technique of ketamine sedation by aeromedical retrieval teams from the Cairns base of the Queensland section of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. Clinical records were systematically reviewed for ketamine administration and signs of adverse events during transport and in the subsequent 72 h.

Results 18 patients were sedated during retrieval with intravenous ketamine. Effective sedation was achieved in all cases, with no significant adverse events noted during retrieval or 72 h afterwards.

Conclusion Ketamine sedation is effective and safe in agitated patients with a psychiatric illness in the aeromedical setting and does not lead to worsening agitation in the subsequent 72-h period.

  • Aeromedical
  • anaesthesia
  • critical care transport
  • emergency care systems
  • ketamine
  • prehospital care
  • psychiatric
  • psychological conditions
  • psychology
  • remote and rural medicine
  • retrieval
  • sedation

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