Sedation, analgesia, and neuromuscular blockade in sepsis: an evidence-based review

Jeffery S Vender, Joseph W Szokol, Glenn S Murphy, Martin Nitsun
Critical Care Medicine 2004, 32 (11 Suppl): S554-61

OBJECTIVE: In 2003, critical care and infectious disease experts representing 11 international organizations developed management guidelines for sedation, analgesia, and neuromuscular blockade in sepsis that would be of practical use for the bedside clinician, under the auspices of the Surviving Sepsis Campaign, an international effort to increase awareness and improve outcome in severe sepsis.

DESIGN: The process included a modified Delphi method, a consensus conference, several subsequent smaller meetings of subgroups and key individuals, teleconferences, and electronic-based discussion among subgroups and among the entire committee.

METHODS: The modified Delphi methodology used for grading recommendations built on a 2001 publication sponsored by the International Sepsis Forum. We undertook a systematic review of the literature graded along five levels to create recommendation grades from A to E, with A being the highest grade. Pediatric considerations to contrast adult and pediatric management are in the article by Parker et al. on p. S591.

CONCLUSION: There is no preferred sedative or analgesic agent for use in the critically ill septic patient during mechanical ventilation. Protocols should be utilized for administration of sedation with predefined sedation scale targets. Either intermittent bolus sedation or continuous infusion sedation to predetermined end points with daily interruption/lightening of continuous infusion sedation with awakening and re-titration, if necessary, are recommended. Neuromuscular blockade should be avoided if possible and, if used continuously, requires twitch monitoring.

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