Articles  |   February 2020
Opioids and the Intensivist
Article Information
Critical Care / Pain Medicine / Pharmacology / Articles / Opioid
Articles   |   February 2020
Opioids and the Intensivist
ASA Monitor 2 2020, Vol.84, 30-32.
ASA Monitor 2 2020, Vol.84, 30-32.
Opioids impact intensivists in multiple ways. While opioids form the cornerstone of managing pain and sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU), the significant increases in opioid use-related admissions in the wake of the opioid epidemic are concerning. Pain is ubiquitous in the ICU – almost every procedure performed in the ICU causes pain1  and patients often recall pain as one of the most common memories associated with their ICU stay.2  Acute pain in the ICU is attributed to prolonged immobility, indwelling devices and exposure to invasive procedures, among other etiologies.1  If left untreated, this can lead to hemodynamic and neurobehavioral changes impacting short and long-term outcomes such as agitation, delirium and chronic pain syndromes.3  The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) guidelines also stress upon managing pain first or providing analog-sedation to critically ill patients.3  However, pain management practices in the ICU are largely limited to intravenous (I.V.) and or oral opioid formulations.
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