Researchers from the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research report that a Wake Up and Breathe program decreases sedation levels and showed a trend toward reduced delirium in a critically ill population.

“Being on too high a dose of sedation medications or painkillers isn’t good for the brain, especially the aging brain. Typically about 80 percent of patients in an ICU develop delirium,” said Babar A. Khan, MD, the pulmonologist and critical care physician who led the study. “In our study, in a real-world setting — an ICU of a large public hospital that was supportive of our program — we stopped sedation in the morning and woke patients up to breathe on their own with assistance from an interdisciplinary team of nursing, physicians and respiratory therapists. Only 50 percent developed delirium, still too high a number, but significantly better than typical.”