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Authors

  1. Maraboto, Eddie MSN, RN, ACNS-BC

Abstract

When the clinical picture of a patient in the intensive care unit necessitates placement of an artificial airway supported by mechanical ventilation, a regimen of sedation and analgesia is initiated with the goal of providing anxiolysis and pain control to facilitate ventilation and therapeutic and diagnostic intervention. However, some of the most commonly used sedative agents, such as benzodiazepines, may have profound long-term effects on patients' health, including neuropsychological functioning. With more patients now surviving intensive care, more patients are suffering from these negative health consequences. A review of recent research on the subject suggests that more novel, non-benzodiazepine agents such as dexmedetomidine, fluorinated ether gases, and remifentanil function effectively as sedative agents in intubated patients in the intensive care unit, and are less likely to lead to delirium, agitation, aggression, psychosis, and other complications; in addition, use of these alternatives is associated with shorter times to awakening, extubation, and ICU discharge, as well as shorter overall length of stay and decreased cost of care.