Sedatives and analgesics, in doses that alter consciousness in the intensive care unit (ICU), contribute to delirium and mortality. Pain, agitation, and delirium can be monitored in ICU patients. These symptoms were noted before (PRE) and after (POST) a protocol to alleviate undesirable symptoms. Analgesia and sedation levels, the incidence of coma, delirium, length of stay (LOS), discharge location, and mortality were then compared. We hypothesized that the likely reduction in iatrogenic coma would result in less delirium, because these 2 morbid conditions seem to be linked.METHODS:
All patients were consecutively admitted to an ICU PRE-protocol (August 2003 to February 2004, 610 patients) and POST-protocol (April 2005 to November 2005, 604 patients). Between February 2004 and April 2005, we piloted and taught individualized nonpharmacologic strategies and titration of analgesics, sedatives, and antipsychotics based on sedation, analgesia, and delirium scores. We measured the following outcomes: coma, delirium, LOS, mortality, and discharge location.RESULTS:
The POST group benefited from better analgesia, received less opiates (90.72 ± 207.45 vs 22.93 ± 40.36 morphine equivalents/d, P = <0.0001), and, despite comparable sedation, had shorter duration of mechanical ventilation. Medication-induced coma rates (18.1%vs 7.2%, P < 0.0001), ICU and hospital LOS, and dependency at discharge were lower in the POST-protocol group. Subsyndromal delirium was significantly reduced; delirium was similar. The 30-day mortality risk in the PRE cohort was 29.4% vs 22.9% in the POST cohort (log-rank test, P = 0.009).CONCLUSION:
Educational initiatives incorporating systematic management protocols with nonpharmacologic measures and individualized titration of sedation, analgesia, and delirium therapies are associated with better outcomes.