BACKGROUND: Recommendations on use of neuromuscular blocking agents include using peripheral nerve stimulators to monitor depth of blockade and concomitantly administering sedatives and/or analgesics. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate critical care nurses' practices in administering neuromuscular blocking agents. METHODS: A 16-item survey was mailed to 483 acute care facilities in the United States. Of these, 246 surveys (51%) were returned and analyzed to determine use of neuromuscular blocking agents, peripheral nerve stimulators, sedatives, and analgesics. Logistic regression analysis was used to find independent predictors of use of peripheral nerve stimulators. RESULTS: Seventy-five percent of respondents reported long-term use of neuromuscular blocking agents in critically ill patients. Of those, 63% monitored the level of blockade with peripheral nerve stimulators. Reasons for not using peripheral nerve stimulators included unavailability of equipment (48%), lack of training (36%), and insufficient evidence that peripheral nerve stimulators improve care (23%). Predictors of use of stimulators were facilities with more than 150 beds (P < .001) and administration of neuromuscular blocking agents by continuous infusion (P < .001). Ninety-five percent of respondents reported using concurrent analgesics/sedatives always or most of the time. Facilities with fewer than 10 beds in the intensive care unit used concurrent analgesics/sedatives significantly less often than did facilities with 10 beds or more (90% vs 98%, respectively; P = .03). CONCLUSIONS: Small and large facilities differ in concomitant use of analgesics/sedatives and peripheral nerve stimulators. Education and research are needed to ensure that patients receive adequate monitoring and sedation during administration of neuromuscular blocking agents.

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