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  1. Pun, Brenda T. MSN, RN, ACNP
  2. Dunn, Jan MSN, RN


The first in a two-part series focuses on assessing sedated patients in the ICU.


OVERVIEW: The prevention or treatment of pain, anxiety, and delirium in the ICU is an important goal. But achieving a balance between sedation and analgesia, especially in critically ill patients on mechanical ventilation, can be challenging. Both under- and oversedation carry serious risks. In 2002 the Society of Critical Care Medicine, along with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, updated recommendations in its clinical practice guidelines for the sustained use of sedatives and analgesics in adults. This two-part series examines those recommendations that relate to sedation assessment and management, as well as the current literature. This month Part 1 also reviews pertinent recommendations concerning pain and delirium and discusses tools for assessing pain, delirium, and sedation. In August Part 2 will explore pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic management of anxiety and agitation in critically ill patients.