Critical Care Pharmacist Attitudes and Perceptions of Neuromuscular Blocker Infusions in ARDS

John W. Devlin, Sarah E. Train, Karen E.A. Burns, Anthony Massaro, Ting Ting Wu, Timothy Castor, John Vassaur, Kavitha Selvan, John P. Kress, Brian L. Erstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Current critical care pharmacist (CCP) practices and perceptions related to neuromuscular infusion (NMBI) use for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) maybe different with the COVID-19 pandemic and the publication of 2020 NMBI practice guidelines. Objective: To evaluate CCP practices and perceptions regarding NMBI use for patients with moderate-severe ARDS. Methods: We developed, tested, and electronically administered a questionnaire (7 parent-, 42 sub-questions) to 409 American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Critical Care Practice and Research Network members in 12 geographically diverse states. The questionnaire focused on adults with moderate-severe ARDS (PaO2:FiO2<150) whose causes of dyssynchrony were addressed. Two reminders were sent at 10-day intervals. Results: Respondents [131/409 (32%)] primarily worked in a medical intensive care unit (ICU) 102 (78%). Compared to COVID-negative(-) ARDS patients, COVID positive(+) ARDS patients were twice as likely to receive a NMBI (34 ± 18 vs.16 ± 17%; P < 0.01). Respondents somewhat/strongly agreed a NMBI should be reserved until after trials of deep sedation (112, 86%) or proning (92, 81%) and that NMBI reduced barotrauma (88, 67%), dyssynchrony (87, 66%), and plateau pressure (79, 60%). Few respondents somewhat/strongly agreed that a NMBI should be initiated at ARDS onset (23, 18%) or that NMBI reduced 90-day mortality (12, 10%). Only 2/14 potential NMBI risks [paralysis awareness (101, 82%) and prolonged muscle weakness (84, 68%)] were frequently reported to be of high/very high concern. Multiple NMBI titration targets were assessed as very/extremely important including arterial pH (109, 88%), dyssynchrony (107, 86%), and PaO2: FiO2 ratio (82, 66%). Train-of-four (55, 44%) and BIS monitoring (36, 29%) were deemed less important. Preferred NMBI discontinuation criteria included absence of dysschrony (84, 69%) and use ≥48 hour (72, 59%). Conclusions and Relevance: Current critical care pharmacists believe NMBI for ARDS patients are best reserved until after trials of deep sedation or proning; unique considerations exist in COVID+ patients. Our results should be considered when ICU NMBI protocols are being developed and bedside decisions regarding NMBI use in ARDS are being formulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1282-1290
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • coronavirus
  • intensive care
  • neuromuscular blockade
  • pharmacists
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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