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Improving Care for the Ventilated Patient

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Context: Despite evidence that the use of specific interventions can decrease morbidity and mortality for patients receiving mechanical ventilation, a gap exists between best evidence and practice. A prospective cohort study was conducted in a surgical intensive care unit (ICU) that included all patients who were mechanically ventilated. The study was designed to ensure that for 90% of ventilator days, patients receive processes associated with improved outcomes, including semi-recumbent positioning, daily interruption of sedative-drug infusions, peptic ulcer disease prophylaxis, and deep venous thrombosis prophylaxis.

Intervention: The improvement model included three interventions: (1) administering a questionnaire to identify barriers to compliance with the four care processes,(2) implementing an educational intervention, and (3) implementing a checklist to be completed daily during ICU rounds to ask providers whether patients were receiving these therapies.

Results: Overall, 80% of nurses did not know there was evidence to support at least one of the four therapies. During the study period (March 4–April 29, 2002), the percentage of ventilator days on which patients received all four care processes increased from 30% to 96% (p < .001).

Discussion: Evidence-based therapies for mechanically ventilated patients can reduce morbidity, mortality, and costs of care.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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