Just as the history of sedation is a continuum of events and discoveries, it is important to understand that sedation itself is a continuum. The boundaries between the different levels of sedation may not always be evident to the untrained or inexperienced and progression from one level to a higher level may quickly occur as patients do not always respond predictably to any particular sedative agent, i.e., they may respond idiosyncratically. Table 1 summarizes the different levels of sedation continuum and their characteristics.
Table 1. The Sedation Continuum.
|Minimal||Normal||Not affected||Not affected||No change|
|Deep||Repeated painful stimulus||May need assistance||Ventilation may be impaired||Usually maintained|
|General||No response/not easily aroused||Often needs assistance||Impaired/needs support||May be impaired|