Reducing Patient Ventilator Days

If you ever have to be on a ventilator, Patient and Wife With Doctorthe sooner the sooner the ventilator is safely removed, the lower your risk of getting other medical complications.

Standard treatment for patients who are unable to breathe on their own is to use a ventilator until their lungs can function on their own. In the Intensive Care Unit, patients are typically taken off a ventilator after a few days, when they no longer need help breathing. Patients who are not taken off a ventilator soon enough are at risk of getting ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).

A team of Genesis staff evaluated the existing processes and identified elements that can increase ventilator days. The team then set an improvement goal to reduce the number ventilator days by 25 percent – from an average of 3.49 days to 2.62 days.

Some of the improvements made to meet that goal were:

  • Early morning respiratory bed huddles were established to enhance communication.
  • A plan was set to develop weaning and sedation protocols, which were then placed into our electronic medical record program.
  • Aggressive physical therapy was started for vent patients within 24 to 48 hours.
  • Daily goals were established for vent patients.
  • A tape strip was applied to each bed frame as a visual marker identifying the correct vent patient position (30 degrees) to help prevent VAP.
  • Quality assurance measurements were established to verify that all improvements were being followed.

Following these improvements, the team reviewed the average ventilator days again – the average was now down to 2.71 days from 3.49; this was an improvement of 0.78 ventilator days).

With this change, there was a decrease in the potential for ventilator-associated pneumonia and an increase in the availability of critical care beds. But, ultimately, the patients came out the winner because there was also an improved overall service quality.

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