Background: Sedation and analgesia have an important impact on the outcome of patients treated with mechanical ventilation. International guidelines recommend use of sedation protocols to ensure best patient care.
Objective: To determine the sedation practice of intensive care nurses weaning adults from mechanical ventilation.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey with a self-administered questionnaire was used to determine sedation practices of Flemish critical care nurses during weaning. Consensus on content validity was achieved through a Delphi procedure among experts. Data were collected during the 32nd Annual Congress of the Flemish Society of Critical Care Nurses in Ghent, Belgium, December 2014.
Results: A total of 342 nurses were included in the study. Of these, 43.7% had a sedation protocol in their unit that was used by 61.8% of the respondents. Sedation protocols were more often available (P < .001) in academic hospitals (72%) than in general hospitals (41.5%). Sedatives were administered via continuous infusion with bolus doses if needed (81%). Level of sedation was assessed every 2 hours (56%), mostly via the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (59.1%). Daily interruption of sedation was used by 16.5% of respondents. The biggest barriers to daily interruption were patient comfort (49.4%) and fear of respiratory worsening (46.6%).
Conclusions: A considerable discrepancy exists between international recommendations and actual sedation practices. Standardization of sedation practices across different institutions on a regional and national level may improve the quality of care.