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Sedation is the medical act of giving the patient a drug that lowers their metabolic rate, consciousness and reflexes without actually putting them under anesthesia, which is usually dangerous unless a physician can be certain the patient has not eaten.
There are several reasons for sedating a patient:
- The patient might be suffering from violent convulsions;
- The patient might be in pain;
- The patient might be suffering from a psychotic episode;
- The patient might be suffering from severe insomnia.
Many sedatives can be added to a patient's intravenous fluids, allowing the dose to be monitored and the patient to be sedated indefinitely while allowing them to breathe on their own. Sedated patients do not require the same supervision as patients under anesthetic, and can usually be hooked to a vital signs monitor to ensure heart rate and respiration are within limits.
Sedatives are not appropriate for patients who are combative, difficult or senile. In such cases, restraints may be more appropriate as they do not have the same side effects as sedatives.