Pre- and post-intervention study to assess the impact of a sedation protocol in critically ill surgical patients

J Surg Res. 2013 Oct;184(2):966-72.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2013.03.065. Epub 2013 Apr 17.


Introduction: Sedation and pain management for mechanically ventilated critically ill surgical patients pose many challenges for the intensivist. Even though daily interruption of sedatives and opioids is appropriate in medical intensive care unit (ICU) patients, it may not be feasible in the surgical patients with pain from surgical incision or trauma. Therefore we developed an analgesia/sedation based protocol for the surgical ICU population.

Methods: We performed a two-phase prospective observational control study. We evaluated a prescriber driven analgesia/sedation protocol (ASP) in a 12-bed surgical ICU. The pre-ASP group was sedated as usual (n = 100) and the post-ASP group was managed with the new ASP (n = 100). Each phase of the study lasted for 5 mo. Comparisons between the two groups were performed by χ(2) or Fisher's exact test for categorical variables and the Mann-Whitney test for nonparametric variables. A P value <0.05 was statistically significant.

Results: We found a significant reduction in the use of fentanyl (P < 0.001) and midazolam (P = 0.001). We achieved sedation goals of 86.8% in the post-ASP group compared to 74.4% in the pre-ASP (P < 0.001). Mean mechanical ventilations days in pre- and post-ASP group were 5.9 versus 3.8 (P = 0.033).

Conclusion: In our cohort of critically ill surgery patients implementation of an ASP resulted in reduced use of continuously infused benzodiazepines and opioids, a decline in cumulative benzodiazepine and analgesic dosages, and a greater percentage of Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale scores at goal. We also showed reduced mechanical ventilation days.

Keywords: Dose; Fentanyl; Length of stay; Mechanical ventilation days; Midazolam; Protocol; Score; Sedation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Care*
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Midazolam / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Midazolam
  • Fentanyl