Impact of an Analgesia-Based Sedation Protocol on Mechanically Ventilated Patients in a Medical Intensive Care Unit

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Recent attention to adverse effects of intensive care unit (ICU) sedation has led to the use of strategies that target a “lighter” depth of sedation. Among these strategies are “analgosedation” protocols, which prioritize pain management and preferentially use IV opioids before administration of continuously infused sedatives such as propofol or midazolam. We hypothesized that using an analgosedation protocol would result in a shorter duration of mechanical ventilation than a protocol with greater emphasis on IV sedatives


We conducted a retrospective study comparing the duration of mechanical ventilation before and after implementation of an analgosedation protocol in a 24-bed medical ICU. Patients were aged 18 years or older and required mechanical ventilation where a light level of sedation was clinically appropriate. Exclusion criteria included a clinical need for deeper levels of sedation or tracheal intubation confined to the perioperative period.


Seventy-nine patients were included in the postimplementation group and 65 in the preimplementation group. After adjustment for baseline covariates, introduction of the 2013 analgosedation protocol was associated with a decreased duration of mechanical ventilation (−26.62 hours; 95% confidence interval, − 44.98 to −8.26, P = 0.005). Patients managed with the analgosedation protocol experienced a lighter level of sedation (median Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale, −2.57 vs −1.25, P = 0.001) and improved pain management (median Critical-Care Pain Observation Tool score, 2.0 vs 1.5, P = 0.03). The use of continuously infused sedatives was reduced by 54.3% (92.3% vs 38.0%, P < 0.001).


Our findings suggest that implementation of an analgosedation protocol was associated with an overall lighter level of sedation, shorter mean ventilator duration, and a reduced use of continuous infusion sedatives. Further studies are needed to assess the impact of such protocols on ICU delirium.

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