Ketamine sedation - parent advice


Cork Emergency Departments


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This information sheet is for parents of children undergoing sedation with ketamine for a procedure while in the Emergency Department (ED) at Cork University Hospital.

About sedation

Sedation is a medicine given to children to make them feel sleepy and relaxed. When ketamine is used for sedation, it is given by injection through a drip or into the leg.

Reasons for having sedation

Your child may become distressed and afraid when having certain tests or treatments. Fear can make his/her pain worse. Procedural sedation (sedation for procedures) aims to reduce your child’s anxiety and fear. The sedation may make your child feel sleepy and relaxed, meaning the procedure can be performed more easily and with less distress for you and your child. Your child may not remember the procedure. This is normal.

Permission to give sedation

As the parent or legal guardian we cannot sedate your child without your consent. You need to understand the reasons for sedation and the following risks:

  1. A staff member will remain with your child until they are awake and if required, we will give your child oxygen through a mask or breathing tube.
  2. Children may vomit. Very rarely, they may breathe the vomit into their lungs, which may require some specific treatment.
  3. They may need to be treated with extra medicines such as anti-allergy medicine.
  4. For your child’s safety, do not take your child home until staff tell you it is safe to do so. Expect to wait for an hour or more after the procedure.
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About ketamine

Ketamine is commonly used internationally in EDs for sedation in children. When we give your child ketamine, they get sleepy and do not remember what happened. There are some special features about sedation with ketamine for you to know:

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Helping your child

Helping your child before the procedure

Helping your child during the procedure

Helping your child after the procedure


Content by Dr Rory O'Brien, Dr Arina Cruis, Dr Íomhar O' Sullivan 28/05/2020. Last review Dr IOS 29/06/20 .