Residual Neuromuscular Blockade in the Critical Care Setting

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Abstract

Residual neuromuscular blockade is a widespread challenge for providers in the acute care setting that, if left unrecognized or untreated, places patients at higher risk for morbidity and mortality. The condition is estimated to occur in 26% to 88% of patients undergoing general anesthesia. The role of the advanced practice nurse in the acute care setting is to facilitate a safe recovery process by identifying early signs of deterioration and supporting the patient until full muscular strength has returned. This article discusses the prevalence of residual neuromuscular blockade and associated complications and patient risk factors. A review is included of the current uses for neuromuscular blockade, pathophysiology of the neuromuscular junction, pharmacologic characteristics of neuromuscular blocking agents (including drug-drug interactions), monitoring modalities, and effectiveness of reversal agents. Treatment recommendations pertinent to residual neuromuscular blockade are outlined.

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