The ICU can be a stressful environment for patients.([FOOTNOTE=Wenham T, Pittard A. Intensive care unit environment. Continuing Education Anaesth Crit Care Pain. 2009;9(6):178-183.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]),([FOOTNOTE=Pugh RJ, Jones C, Griffiths RD. The impact of noise in the intensive care unit. Intensive Care Med Yearbook of Intensive Care Med.  2007:942-949. Available at: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-540-49433-1_85. Accessed May 28, 2013.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]),([FOOTNOTE=Biancofiore G, Bindi ML, Romanelli AM, Urbani L, Mosca F, Filipponi F. Stress-inducing factors in ICUs: what liver transplant recipients experience and what caregivers perceive. Liver Transpl. 2005;11(8):967-972.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]) Between their poor health and strange surroundings, being in the ICU can contribute to general feelings of fear and anxiety in patients, which in turn can manifest as agitation.1,2,3,([FOOTNOTE=Barr J, Fraser GL, Puntillo K, et al; American College of Critical Care Medicine. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of pain, agitation, and delirium in adult patients in the intensive care unit. Crit Care Med. 2013;41(1):263-306.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]) Effective evaluation and treatment of anxiety can improve patients’ overall sense of well-being,4 and is another step that clinicians can take to reduce the overall use of sedatives.4

In this video, leading ICU clinicians discuss anxiety in the ICU, and the different strategies they employ to evaluate anxiety.

By taking the time to evaluate anxiety, clinicians may be able to reduce the risk of oversedation.4  By using sedation more effectively, we can work together to potentially reduce ICU ventilation time.

Improving Outcomes

We have a solution.

A key to avoiding unnecessary sedation and its clinical consequences is to understand the causes of agitation.