Objective: To compare the overall performance of specially trained neonatal nurses acting autonomously, unsupervised, and without a protocol with specialist registrars when weaning neonates from mechanical ventilation.
Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: A single neonatal intensive care unit.
Patients: Neonates requiring conventional mechanical ventilation (n = 50).
Interventions: Infants on conventional ventilation were randomly assigned to receive either nurse-led (n = 25) or registrar-led (n = 23) weaning. A total of 48 infants completed the study (two infants in the registrar group were excluded when their parents withdrew consent).
Measurements and main results: The main outcome measure, median weaning time, was 1200 mins (95% confidence interval [CI], 621-1779 mins) in the nurse group and 3015 mins (95% CI, 2650-3380 mins) in the registrar group (p = .0458). The median time from treatment assignment to the first ventilator change was 60 mins (95% CI, 52-68 mins) in the nurse group and 120 mins (95% CI, 103-137 mins) in the registrar group (p = .35). On average, the nurses made ventilator changes every 4.5 hrs (95% CI, 2.9-6 hrs) and the registrars every 7.2 hrs (95% CI, 5.4-9 hrs; p = .003). The median number (range) of backward steps taken per infant was 0 (0-5 steps) in the nurse group and 1 (0-5 steps) in the registrar group (p = .019).
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that additional domains of neonatal critical care could be reviewed for their potential transfer to appropriately prepared nurses.