Sedation is a necessary component of care for critically ill and injured individuals. Sedatives assist in coping with mechanical ventilation and other invasive devices, and help patients tolerate procedures and noxious stimuli in the intensive care unit. Sedatives are also useful in the control of agitation and delirium. In addition to fundamental humane reasons, calming patients with sedatives provides physiologic benefits, such as reducing oxygen consumption expended during restlessness, and prevents dislodgement of life-preserving tubes and catheters. When administering sedatives to manage critically ill patients, clinicians must be cognizant of the many complex issues surrounding their use. This issue, edited by Consulting Editor, Dr. Jan Foster, provides current updates in this area, including new guidelines and a focus on delirium.
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