Pain, agitation, and delirium in the ICU are interrelated and add another layer of complexity when providing care to mechanically ventilated patients. Understanding how to manage sedation can help interrupt the cycle of these three complications.
This slide demonstrates the wheel of pain, agitation, and delirium as a cycle.
Pain, Agitation, and Delirium
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” The negative consequences of unrelieved pain in ICU patients are significant and long lasting. Many critically ill patients may be unable to self-report pain due to the use of mechanical ventilation or high doses of sedative agents or neuromuscular blocking agents.