groups. The median ICU length of stay for the NRT group was 24.4 (16.1 63.6) hours, compared with 22.6 (14.0 42.8) hours for the control group. The median hospital length of stay was 29.6 (18.3 127.1) hours, compared with 46.2 (19.8 117.3) hours for the control group.
"Although administering nicotine replacement therapy to smokers in the ICU is not a standard practice, some ICUs have nurse-driven protocols aimed at providing NRT for active smokers. We expect NRT to be more widely used in such ICUs," said senior author Bekele Afessa, MD, FCCP, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
Common signs of nicotine withdrawal include craving, irritability, depression, restlessness, and sleep disturbances. However, researchers caution that, because of other conditions that mimic nicotine withdrawal in the critically ill, to may be difficult to make an accurate diagnosis.
"Minimizing the effects of nicotine withdrawal in critically ill patients who smoke can present a significant challenge to the ICU team," said Mark J. Rosen, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "The findings of this study are intriguing and reinforce the need for additional research regarding the effects of nicotine replacement therapy on patients in the ICU."
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Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
American College of Chest Physicians
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