Learning Objective 1: compare protocol-directed sedation management with traditional non-protocol-directed practice in mechanically ventilated patients in an Australian critical care.
Learning Objective 2: explain the contrasting international research findings on sedation protocol implementation.
A randomized, controlled trial design was used to study 312 mechanically ventilated adult patients in a general critical care unit at an Australian metropolitan teaching hospital. Patients were randomly assigned to receive protocol directed sedation management developed from evidence based guidelines (n=153) or usual clinical practice (n=159).
The median (95% CI) duration of ventilation was 58 hrs (44–78 hrs) for patients in the non-protocol group and 79 hrs (56–93) for those patients in the protocol group (p=0.20). Results were not significant for length of stay in critical care or hospital, the frequency of tracheostomies, and unplanned extubations. A Cox proportional hazards model estimated that protocol directed sedation management was associated with a 22% decrease (95% CI: 40% decrease to 2% increase, p=0.07) in the occurrence of successful weaning from mechanical ventilation.
Few randomized controlled trials have evaluated the effectiveness of protocol-directed sedation outside of North America. This study highlights the lack of transferability between different settings and different models of care. Qualified, high intensity nursing in the Australian critical care setting facilitates rapid, responsive decisions for sedation management and an increased success rate for weaning from mechanical ventilation.
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