Each year, thousands of Americans require mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit (ICU). For patients receiving mechanical ventilation, the experience of being intubated typically entails the use of physical restraints, sedation, and analgesia to maintain patient safety and comfort. Because of the use of sedatives and analgesia, most patients using mechanical ventilation have difficulty expressing their level of discomfort to critical care clinicians.

This qualitative study was initially conducted to explore the perceptions of patients who were physically restrained and sedated for mechanical ventilation. A total of 14 adult patients were enrolled from a cardiac intensive care unit of a community hospital located in Northern Colorado. After ICU discharge, each of the participants underwent a semistructured interview at the bedside and were asked 5 open-ended questions that prompted them to reflect on how it felt to be restrained, recall any conversations they...

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