AUSTIN, TEX. (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)Patients given propofol-based sedation in the intensive care unit were more likely to have daily dose optimization, stay at their target Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale rate, and be intubated for fewer days, compared with patients given benzodiazepine-based regimens, a retrospective study has shown. Being on propofol at the time of extubation, however, was associated with a significantly higher risk of being reintubated.

In 2013, the American College of Critical Care Medicine updated its guidelines for sedation in the ICU. The changes reflected what Dr. Steven J. Campbell, a presenter at this year’s annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, said was the new paradigm in ICU sedation – namely, to use the least amount of sedation in patients and for the shortest amount of time possible. We’ve also seen a shift away from benzodiazepines in recent years, and that when patients are given them, they stay in ICUs longer and have longer ventilation times,” Dr. Campbell said. The updated guidelines also suggest not relying on benzodiazepines as a first-line sedative.

To investigate how the updated sedation protocols have impacted the multiple ICUs at Ohio State University’s tertiary medical center, where Dr. Campbell is a third-year medical resident, and to assess the relationship of the changes with reintubation risk, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues retrospectively analyzed data on 988 intubated patients and 6,359 ventilator days recorded at the medical center during a 10-month period in 2013, after the new protocols were in place.

Considering either single sedation drips or combined sedation drips in the 988 unique intubations, about 69% of patients received at least 1 day of propofol, and roughly a third were given at least 1 day of a narcotic.

For 373 patients, the most commonly used drip was propofol only. Propofol combined with a narcotic was used in 141 patients, whereas the a combination of the two with a benzodiazepine was used in 140 patients.

A quarter of all intubated patients received at least 1 day of a continuous benzodiazepine drip, although only 7% of these received this sedation regimen as a first-line agent. Data were not presented on what previous benzodiazepine sedation rates were at the center before the protocol change.

The number of ventilator days for the propofol-only group was between 5.6 days plus or minus another 5.8 days, nearly half of the total propofol/narcotic/benzodiazepine ventilator days which came to 10.5 days give or take another 8 days.

“It intuitively makes sense that the more drips the patients were on, the more they would be on a ventilator,” Dr. Campbell said.

However, for patients given benzodiazepines only, the number of ventilator days was 4.3, plus or minus 4.2 days. Dr. Campbell theorized this was attributable to there being a number of patients withdrawing from alcohol and so needing to rely on an infusion of the benzodiazepine to help them through the process.

Propofol-based regimens were associated with improved dose optimization compliance if patients were eligible (P less than .0001).

Patients given narcotic drips were more likely to meet their targeted RASS levels of –1 to +1, compared with either benzodiazepines or propofol, although propofol patient RASS targets were higher than those of the benzodiazepine group (43% for narcotics, 22% for benzodiazepines, and 37% for propofol, P less than .0001).

The study also found a relationship between failed extubation rates and sedative use. There were 953 patients extubated in all. Seven percent of the extubated patients who had received continuous sedation on the day of extubation had to be reintubated within 48 hours. A significant risk of reintubation was found for patients who’d been given propofol alone since nearly half of that cohort were among those reintubated (P = .01).

Although Dr. Campbell and his colleagues wrote in their study that this could have been due to either lower levels of sedation to begin with, and so being more likely to have earlier extubation, or that the respiratory physiology of this group was altered by the propofol.

“The most important take-away here was that being on any sedative within 24 hours of extubation meant you had a high rate of failing that extubation,” Dr. Campbell said.

The investigators were not able to determine precisely when the sedation was terminated in each patient, only that it had occurred within a 24-hour period prior to extubation.

Dr. Campbell also noted that since dexmedetomidine was not widely used at the site ICUs as an alternative sedative, a future inquiry into the reasons why not would be worthwhile. “I suspect it’s because it’s still one of the newer agents,” he said.

On Twitter @whitneymcknight


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