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Crit Care Clin. 2009 Jul;25(3):489-513, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2009.03.001.

Protocolized and target-based sedation and analgesia in the ICU.

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Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Box 980050, Richmond, VA 23298-0050, USA.


Administering sedative and analgesic medications is a cornerstone of optimizing patient comfort and minimizing distress, yet may lead to unintended consequences including delayed recovery from critical illness and slower liberation from mechanical ventilation. The use of structured approaches to sedation management, including guidelines, protocols, and algorithms can promote evidence-based care, reduce variation in clinical practice, and systematically reduce the likelihood of excessive and/or prolonged sedation. Patient-focused sedation algorithms are multidisciplinary, including physician, nurse, and pharmacist development and implementation. Key components of sedation algorithms include identification of goals and specific targets, use of valid and reliable tools to assess analgesia, agitation, and sedation, and incorporation of logical medication selection. Sedation protocols generally focus on a) algorithms that incorporate treating sedation and analgesia based upon escalation, de-escalation, or changing medications according to specific targets, or b) daily interruption of sedative and opioid analgesic infusions. Many published sedation protocols have been tested in controlled clinical trials, often demonstrating benefit such as shorter duration of mechanical ventilation, reduced ICU length of stay, and/or superior sedation management compared to usual care. Implementation of sedation algorithms in ICUs is a challenging process for which sufficient resources must be allocated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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