Clinical effectiveness of a sedation protocol minimizing benzodiazepine infusions and favoring early dexmedetomidine: a before-after study

Aurora Affiliations

Aurora Baycare Medical Center


INTRODUCTION: Randomized controlled trials suggest clinical outcomes may be improved with dexmedetomidine as compared to benzodiazepines, however further study and validation is needed. The objective of this study was to determine the clinical effectiveness of a sedation protocol minimizing benzodiazepine use in favor of early dexmedetomidine.

METHODS: This was a before-after study including adult surgical and medical ICU patients requiring mechanical ventilation and continuous sedation for at least 24 hours. The before phase included consecutive patients admitted between April 1 and August 31, 2011. Subsequently, the protocol was modified to minimize use of benzodiazepines in favor of early dexmedetomidine through a multidisciplinary approach and staff education was provided. The after phase included consecutive eligible patients between May 1 and October 31, 2012.

RESULTS: 199 patients were included, with 97 patients in the before and 102 in the after phase. Baseline characteristics were well balanced between groups. Use of midazolam as initial sedation (58% vs. 27%, p < 0.0001) or at any point during the ICU stay (76% vs. 48%, p < 0.0001) was significantly reduced in the after phase. Dexmedetomidine use as initial sedation (2% vs. 39%, p < 0.0001) or at any point during the ICU stay (39% vs. 82%, p < 0.0001) significantly increased. Both the prevalence (81% vs. 93%, p =0.013) and median percent of days with delirium (55% (IQR 18-83) vs. 71% (IQR 45-100), p = 0.001) were increased in the after phase. The median duration of mechanical ventilation was significantly reduced in the after phase (110 (IQR 59-192) vs. 74.5 (IQR 42-148) hrs, p = 0.029) and significantly fewer patients required tracheostomy (20% vs. 9%, p = 0.040). The median ICU length of stay was 8 (IQR 4-12) days in the before phase and 6 (IQR 3-11) days in the after phase (p = 0.252).

CONCLUSIONS: Implementing a sedation protocol that targeted light sedation and reduced benzodiazepine use led to significant improvements in the duration of mechanical ventilation and requirement for tracheostomy despite increases in the prevalence and duration of ICU delirium.

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