Analgesia and Sedation in the Intensive Care of Burn Patients: Results of a European Survey

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Objective:A variety of agents and techniques are employed in different countries, settings, and medical specialities in order to provide analgesia and sedation in intensive care. Several national guidelines have been published in recent years regarding sedation and analgesia in a general intensive care patient population; however, to date no data exist for patients with burn injuries. The aim of the study was to evaluate analgesia and sedation practice in the intensive care of burn patients in Europe.Design:A postal survey was sent to 188 burn centers in Europe. The addresses were provided by the European Burn Association. The heads of the intensive care units were asked to fill in a structured questionnaire concerning the use of analgesia and sedation in their units.Results:The overall response rate was 27.04%; 63% of European burn centers reported standard operating procedures for sedation and analgesia. A regular score-based assessment of sedation, analgesia, and delirium is carried out by 58%, 60%, and 5%, respectively, of the units. Propofol is the sedative most frequently used for short-term sedation and the weaning phase, whereas benzodiazepines are the preferred substances for medium- and long-term sedation. α2-agonists are widely used during weaning. Opioids are the analgesics of choice for approximately two thirds of the patients. Ketamine is preferred for analgesia in 12% and for sedation in 13% of all substances used. For painful procedures (eg, dressing changes), a large variety of different combinations of analgesics and sedatives are used. Half of the responding intensive care units use neuromuscular blocking agents and supportive nonpharmacological techniques. Two thirds of the European burn centers perceive the need for change in their concepts of analgesia and sedation.Conclusion:A wide variety of drugs are used for analgesia and sedation in European burn centers. This would appear to be due to lack of guidelines or scientific evidence. The implementation of regular assessment of sedation, analgesia, and delirium must be improved. The widespread use of neuromuscular blocking agents should be restricted or even abandoned. Two thirds of the units identify a need for change in their concepts. Valid scientific data are needed to develop guidelines for sedation and analgesia of burn patients.

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