Objectives: Noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (NPPV) is increasingly used in patients with acute respiratory failure, but few data exist regarding current sedation practices during NPPV. We sought to characterize current practices and attitudes regarding sedation during NPPV.
Design: Cross-sectional Web-based survey.
Setting: Medical institutions.
Participants: Physician members of the American College of Chest Physician's Critical Care Network (n = 2,656) and the European Respiratory Society's Assembly of Critical Care (n = 339).
Measurements and main results: Of the 790 of 2,985 (27%) of physicians who responded, 15%, 6%, and 28% never used sedation, analgesia, or hand restraints any of the time for NPPV patients, respectively, and the large majority reported using these interventions in < or =25% of patients. Sedation, analgesia, and hand restraints were more commonly used by North Americans than Europeans (41% vs. 24% for sedation, 48% vs. 35% for analgesia, and 27% vs. 16% for hand restraints, all p < .01) and critical care vs. noncritical care physicians (42% vs. 24% for sedation and 50% vs. 34% for analgesia, all p < .01). A benzodiazepine alone was the most preferred (33%), followed by an opioid alone (29%). Europeans were less likely to use a benzodiazepine alone (25% vs. 39%, p < .001) but more likely to use an opioid alone (37% vs. 26%, p < .009). Sedation was usually administered as an intermittent intravenous bolus, outside of a protocol, and was assessed by nurses using clinical end points rather than a sedation scale.
Conclusions: Most physicians infrequently use sedation and analgesic therapy for NPPV to treat acute respiratory failure, but practices vary widely within and between specialties and geographic regions.