A patient may agitation in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a perfectly good reason. Simply sedating the patient may mask a serious problem that can be life-threatening.


Causes of agitation in a patient receiving critical care:

(1) pain (myocardial infarction, post-operative, trauma, other)

(2) physical discomfort (position in bed, arm or leg position, device impingement, tight clothing, other)

(3) dyssynchrony between patient and ventilator

(4) alcohol, drug and/or nicotine withdrawal

(5) drug overdose

(6) drug-induced delirium

(7) hypoxia

(8) hypercapnia

(9) sleep deprivation

(10) attempting to communicate

(11) hypoglycemia

(12) septicemia

(13) infection involving the CNS

(14) anxiety


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