Practices in sedation, analgesia, mobilization, delirium, and sleep deprivation in adult intensive care units (SAMDS-ICU): an international survey before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mariana Luz, Bruna Brandão Barreto, Roberta Esteves Vieira de Castro, Jorge Salluh, Felipe Dal-Pizzol, Caio Araujo, Audrey De Jong, Gérald Chanques, Sheila Nainan Myatra, Eduardo Tobar, Carolina Gimenez-Esparza Vich, Federico Carini, Eugene Wesley Ely, Joanna L. Stollings, Kelly Drumright, John Kress, Pedro Povoa, Yahya Shehabi, Wilson Mphandi, Dimitri Gusmao-Flores

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Background: Since the publication of the 2018 Clinical Guidelines about sedation, analgesia, delirium, mobilization, and sleep deprivation in critically ill patients, no evaluation and adequacy assessment of these recommendations were studied in an international context. This survey aimed to investigate these current practices and if the COVID-19 pandemic has changed them. Methods: This study was an open multinational electronic survey directed to physicians working in adult intensive care units (ICUs), which was performed in two steps: before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: We analyzed 1768 questionnaires and 1539 (87%) were complete. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we received 1476 questionnaires and 292 were submitted later. The following practices were observed before the pandemic: the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) (61.5%), the Behavioral Pain Scale (BPS) (48.2%), the Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale (RASS) (76.6%), and the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) (66.6%) were the most frequently tools used to assess pain, sedation level, and delirium, respectively; midazolam and fentanyl were the most frequently used drugs for inducing sedation and analgesia (84.8% and 78.3%, respectively), whereas haloperidol (68.8%) and atypical antipsychotics (69.4%) were the most prescribed drugs for delirium treatment; some physicians regularly prescribed drugs to induce sleep (19.1%) or ordered mechanical restraints as part of their routine (6.2%) for patients on mechanical ventilation; non-pharmacological strategies were frequently applied for pain, delirium, and sleep deprivation management. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the intensive care specialty was independently associated with best practices. Moreover, the mechanical ventilation rate was higher, patients received sedation more often (94% versus 86.1%, p < 0.001) and sedation goals were discussed more frequently in daily rounds. Morphine was the main drug used for analgesia (77.2%), and some sedative drugs, such as midazolam, propofol, ketamine and quetiapine, were used more frequently. Conclusions: Most sedation, analgesia and delirium practices were comparable before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the intensive care specialty was a variable that was independently associated with the best practices. Although many findings are in accordance with evidence-based recommendations, some practices still need improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalAnnals of Intensive Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2022


  • Analgesia
  • COVID-19
  • Delirium
  • Mobilization
  • Sedation
  • Sleep deprivation


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