Sydney ICU nurses using sedatives on patients to manage COVID workload: Report

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Aug 30, 2021, 05:56 PM IST


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The nurse stressed that increasing sedative dosage during current staffing pressures can be the safest outcome for patients

As Delta variant of COVID-19 ravages Sydney with more people turning up at hospitals, a startling report has come to the fore revealing that several overworked ICU nurses are sedating patients to manage their workload.

Two intensive care nurses from Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred and St Vincent’s hospitals have claimed that the surging COVID-19 cases have stretched manpower in the hospital, leaving them understaffed, the Guardian reports.

They claimed that they have been infusing 'titration' sedative as per the admissible limits prescribed by a doctor, enough “to knock the patient out” so that they can ensure that the patient remains safe when they divert their attention elsewhere.

“If someone is busy or something happens elsewhere, you turn up the sedation dose to knock the patient out so you can move elsewhere and know there won’t be a problem if you’re not keeping eyes on the patient,” a nurse, who didn’t wish to be named, told the Guardian.

“It’s a bad thing because you want the patients to do more breathing on their own, but I know that if I up the sedation they will be safe from dislodging things like ripping out tubes which could be significantly worse for their health than me sedating them for a few hours.

“If we deem it necessary, then we up it, just in the same way we can lower it if we sense a chance for them to come off ventilation. There’s no questions asked at the moment.”

The nurse stressed that increasing sedative dosage during current staffing pressures can be the safest outcome for patients.

Recently, the New South Wales (NSW) Nurses and Midwives’ Association had claimed that the NSW health system has not been staffing ICUs to meet professional standards, and said the understaffing was a problem before the pandemic but that it has become significantly worse during the Delta outbreak.

On Monday, NSW recorded 1,290 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours. There are now 126 people in intensive care, with 54 on ventilators. Of those in intensive care, 113 had not received any vaccine doses, while 12 had received one dose and one patient had been double vaccinated.

(With inputs from agencies)