Implementation challenges in the intensive care unit: The why, who, and how of daily interruption of sedation

Melissa A. Miller, Emily A. Bosk, Theodore J. Iwashyna, Sarah L. Krein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Purpose: Despite strong medical evidence and policy initiatives supporting the use of daily interruption of sedation in mechanically ventilated patients, compliance remains suboptimal. We sought to identify new barriers to daily interruption of sedation. Materials and Methods: We conducted 5 focus groups of intensive care unit physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists during a 2-month period to identify attitudes, barriers, and motivations to perform a daily interruption of sedation. Each focus group was audiotaped, and the transcripts were analyzed using qualitative methods to identify recurrent themes. Results: There was wide consensus on the importance of daily interruptions of sedation; however, practitioners usually performed sedation interruption for 1 of 5 distinct reasons: minimizing the dose of sedation, performing a neurologic examination, facilitating ventilator weaning, reducing intensive care unit length of stay, and assessing patient pain. Participants rarely espoused more than 1 main reason, and there was no shared understanding of why one might do a daily interruption of sedation. This lack of shared understanding led to different patients being selected and diverse approaches to carrying out the DIS. Conclusions: Despite apparent consensus, lack of shared understanding of the rationale for an intervention may lead to divergent practice patterns and failure to implement standardized, evidence-based practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218.e1-218.e7
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


  • Conscious sedation
  • Intensive care
  • Interdisciplinary communication
  • Mechanical ventilators


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