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J Adv Nurs. 2009 May;65(5):1054-60.

Daily interruption of sedative infusions in an adult medical-surgical intensive care unit: randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece.



This article is a report of a study conducted to determine if a nursing-implemented protocol of daily interruption of sedative infusions vs. sedation as directed by the intensive care unit team would decrease duration of mechanical ventilation.


Continuous rather than intermittent infusion of sedative and analgesic agents leads to greater stability in sedation level, but has been correlated with prolongation of mechanical ventilation and hospitalization of critical care patients. Daily interruption of sedative infusions in mechanically ventilated patients has reduced the duration of mechanical ventilation and length of stay in intensive care.


A randomized controlled trial was carried out from November 2004 to March 2006 with 97 patients receiving mechanical ventilation and continuous infusion of sedative drugs in an intensive care unit in Greece. The primary outcome measure was the duration of mechanical ventilation. Secondary outcomes were length of intensive care unit stay, length of hospital stay, overall mortality, total doses of sedative and analgesic medicines and Ramsay scores and duration of cessation of sedative infusions per day.


The median duration of mechanical ventilation was 8.7 days vs. 7.7 days (P = 0.7). Length of intensive care unit stay (median: 14 vs. 12, P = 0.5) and in the hospital (median: 31 vs. 21, P = 0.1) was similar between the intervention and control groups. The absence of statistically significant differences in these variables remained when patients with brain injury were examined separately.


The nursing-implemented protocol of daily interruption of sedative infusions was neither beneficial nor harmful compared with usual practice, which has as its primary target the earliest possible awakening of patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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