An analgesia-delirium-sedation protocol for critically ill trauma patients reduces ventilator days and hospital length of stay

J Trauma. 2008 Sep;65(3):517-26. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318181b8f6.


Background: Analgesics and sedatives are required to maintain a calm and comfortable mechanically ventilated injured patient. Continuous sedative infusions have been shown to lengthen mechanical ventilation and hospital length of stay. Daily interruption of sedative infusions may reduce both of these variables. Implementation of an Analgesia-Delirium-Sedation (ADS) Protocol using objective assessments with a goal of maintaining an awake and comfortable patient may obviate the need for daily interruption of infusions in critically ill trauma patients. We examined the effects of such a protocol on ventilator duration, intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay, hospital slength of stay, and medication requirements.

Methods: A multidisciplinary team designed the protocol. Objective measures of pain (visual/objective pain assessment scale-VAS/OPAS), agitation (Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale-RASS), and delirium [Confusion Assessment Method {CAM-ICU}] were used. Medications were titrated to a RASS of -1 to +1 and VAS/OPAS <4. Haloperidol was used to treat delirium in CAM-ICU positive patients. Retrospective review of the local Project IMPACT database for a 6-month period in 2004 was compared with the same seasonal period in 2006 in which the ADS protocol was used. All mechanically ventilated trauma patients receiving infusions of narcotic, propofol, or benzodiazepine were included. Age, APACHE II score, Injury Severity Score, ventilator days, ventilator-free days at day 28, ICU length of stay, and hospital length of stay are reported as median values (interquartile range). Medication usage is reported as mean values (+/-SD). Differences in data were analyzed using Wilcoxon's rank-sum test or t test, as appropriate. Gender, mortality, and mechanism of injury were analyzed using chi analysis.

Results: A total of 143 patients were included. Patients who died during their hospitalization were excluded except in the analysis of ventilator-free days at day 28. After exclusions, 61 patients were in the control group and 58 in the protocol group. The median duration of mechanical ventilation in the protocol group was 1.2 days (0.5-3.0) which was significantly reduced compared with 3.2 days (1.0-12.9) in the control group (p = 0.027). Analysis of ventilator-free days at day 28 found that the protocol group had 26.4 ventilator-free days (13.9-27.4) compared with 22.8 days (10.5-26.9) in the control group (p = 0.007). The median ICU length of stay was 5.9 days (2.3-18.2) in the control group and 4.1 days (2.5-8.3) in the protocol group (p = 0.21). Hospital length of stay was 12 days (7-17) in the protocol group in contrast to 18 days (10-27) in the control group (p = 0.036). Opiate equivalents and propofol use per patient was significantly reduced in the protocol group from 2,465 mg (+/-1,242 mg) to 1,641 mg (+/-1,250 mg) and 19,232 mg (+/-22,477 mg) to 10,057 (+/-14,616 mg), respectively (p < 0.001, p = 0.01).

Conclusion: An objective assessment- based ADS protocol without daily interruption of medication infusion decreases ventilator days and hospital length of stay in critically ill trauma patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Delirium / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*


  • Analgesics
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives