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Curr Opin Crit Care. 2004 Feb;10(1):40-6.

Management of sedation in mechanically ventilated patients.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



There are many new and exciting studies in the sedation literature. Recent studies of new scoring systems to monitor sedation, new medications, and new insights into post-intensive care unit (ICU) sequelae have brought about interesting ideas for achieving an adequate level of sedation of our patients while minimizing complications.


The recent literature focuses on monitoring the level of a patient's sedation with new bedside clinical scoring systems and new technology. Outcomes studies have highlighted problems with both inadequate sedation and excessive sedation in regard to patients' post-ICU psychological health. More insight into drug withdrawal and addiction as complications of ICU care were examined. A new medication for sedation in the ICU has been approved for use, but its role is not yet defined.


Many patients in the ICU receive mechanical ventilation and will require sedative medications. A frequently overlooked cause of agitation in the ventilated patient is pain, and assessing the adequacy of analgesia is an important part of the continuous assessment of a patient. The goal of sedation is to provide relief while minimizing the development of drug dependency and oversedation. Careful monitoring with bedside scoring systems, the appropriate use of medications, and a strategy of daily interruption can lead to diminished time on the ventilator and in the ICU.

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