Moderate Sedation and Analgesia

April 9, 2014 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Moderate sedation and analgesia is performed to allow the patient to undergo a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure that is painful or uncomfortable (e.g., shoulder reduction, colonoscopy). It may be used in many specialties and areas throughout a hospital and in ambulatory and office-based settings. It is often performed by healthcare providers who are not anesthesiologists or CRNAs.

To understand moderate sedation, it helps to be familiar with the continuum of sedation and anesthesia. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) outlines four levels (ASA "Continuum"):

ASA defines moderate sedation as follows:

Moderate Sedation/Analgesia ("Conscious Sedation") is a drug-induced depression of consciousness during which patients respond purposefully to verbal commands, either alone or accompanied by light tactile stimulation. No interventions are required to maintain a patent airway, and spontaneous ventilation is adequate. Cardiovascular function is usually maintained. (ASA "Continuum")

Moderate sedation is not anesthesia, and it is distinct from...

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