BMJ Qual Saf doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2011-000083
  • Original research

Role of organisational structure in implementation of sedation protocols: a comparison of Canadian and French ICUs

  1. Samir Jaber4
  1. 1Division of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada
  2. 2Center for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada
  3. 3University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  4. 4Department of Critical Care Medicine and Anesthesiology (DAR B), Hôpital Saint Eloi and University of Montpellier School of Medicine, Montpellier, France
  5. 5Pharmacy, St Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada
  6. 6School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter Dodek, Center for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences, 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada; pedodek{at}
  1. Contributors All authors contributed to the conception and design, acquisition of data or analysis and interpretation of data; drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; final approval of the version published.

  • Accepted 27 June 2011
  • Published Online First 5 August 2011


Purpose Use of sedation protocols is associated with fewer mechanical ventilation days in critically ill patients. Canadian intensive care units (ICUs) often have a higher nurse–patient ratio and more specialised training of ICU nurses than French ICUs. Considering these differences, the purpose of this study was to compare implementation of sedation protocols as indicated by frequency of sedation assessment and response to levels of sedation between a Canadian and a French ICU.

Methods This was a retrospective observational study of 30 patients who were mechanically ventilated for at least 24 h in each of two tertiary care ICUs in Vancouver, Canada and Montpellier, France. The authors tabulated all Richmond Agitation–Sedation Scale scores, frequency of score measurement, target scores, frequency and magnitude of scores that were out of target range, and the response to these scores within 1 h of measurement. Practices between the two hospitals were compared using regression modelling, adjusting for patient age, sex, and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score.

Results Although sedation scores were measured more frequently in the Canadian ICU, there were fewer appropriate adjustments in medications in response to scores that were outside the target range in this ICU than in the French ICU, which had a lower nurse–patient ratio and no specialised training of nurses (OR 0.26 (95% CI 0.13 to 0.50) for scores that were higher than target, and OR 0.14 (95% CI 0.07 to 0.28) for scores that were lower than target).

Conclusion Differences in sedation management between these ICUs are likely related to factors other than nurse–patient ratio or specialised training of ICU nurses.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Providence Health Care Research Ethics Board and Ethics Committee at Hôpital St. Eloi.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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