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Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Jan;46(1):21-8. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q284. Epub 2011 Dec 27.

I-SAVE study: impact of sedation, analgesia, and delirium protocols evaluated in the intensive care unit: an economic evaluation.

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Pharmacy Department, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Intensive care units (ICUs) account for considerable health care costs. Adequate pain and sedation management is important to clinical care.


To determine whether implementing a protocol for management of analgesia, sedation, and delirium in the ICU would save costs.


With data from the I-SAVE (Impact of Sedation, Analgesia and Delirium Protocols Evaluated in the Intensive Care Unit: an Economic Evaluation) study, a prospective pre- and postprotocol design was used. Between the 2 periods, protocols for systematic management of sedation, analgesia, and delirium were implemented. Cost-effectiveness was calculated by associating the variation of cost and effectiveness measures (proportion of patients within targeted pain, sedation, and delirium goals). Total costs (in 2004 Canadian dollars), by patient, consisted of the sum of sedation, analgesia, and delirium drug acquisition costs during the ICU stay and the cost of the ICU stay.


A total of 1214 patients, 604 in the preprotocol group and 610 in the postprotocol group, were included. The mean (SD) ICU length of stay and the duration of mechanical ventilation were shorter among patients of the postprotocol group compared with those of the preprotocol group (5.43 [6.43] and 6.39 [8.05] days, respectively; p = 0.004 and 5.95 [6.80] and 7.27 [9.09] days, respectively; p < 0.009). The incidence of delirium remained the same. The proportion of patients with Richmond Agitation and Sedation (RASS) scores between -1 and +1 increased from 57.0% to 66.2% (p = 0.001), whereas the proportion of patients with a numeric rating scale (NRS) score of 1 or less increased from 56.3% to 66.6% (p < 0.001). The mean total cost of ICU hospitalization decreased from $6212.64 (7846.86) in the preprotocol group to $5279.90 (6263.91) in the postprotocol group (p = 0.022). The cost analyses for pain and agitation management improved; the proportion of patients with RASS scores between -1 and +1 or NRS scores of 1 or less increased significantly in the postprotocol group while costing, on average, $932.74 less per hospitalization.


Establishing protocols for patient-driven management of sedation, analgesia, and delirium is a cost-effective practice and allows savings of nearly $1000 per hospitalization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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