Purposes: Little information is available on the utilization of noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (NPPV) in the United States. Accordingly, we performed a survey on the use of NPPV at acute care hospitals in a region of the United States to determine variations in utilization and between hospitals, the reasons for lower rates of utilization, and the techniques used for application.
Methods: Using survey methodology, we developed a questionnaire consisting of 19 questions and distributed it by mail to directors of respiratory care at all 82 acute care hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Nonresponders were contacted by phone to complete the survey. Responses were analyzed using standard statistics, including t tests and Mann-Whitney U tests where appropriate.
Results: We obtained responses from 71 of the 82 hospitals (88%). The overall utilization rate for NPPV was 20% of ventilator starts, but we found enormous variation in the estimated utilization rates among different hospitals, from none to > 50%. The top two reasons given for lower utilization rates were a lack of physician knowledge and inadequate equipment. In the 19 hospitals that provided detailed information, COPD and congestive heart failure constituted 82% of the diagnoses of patients receiving NPPV, but NPPV was still used in only 33% of patients with these diagnoses receiving any form of mechanical ventilation.
Conclusions: The utilization rates for NPPV vary enormously among different acute care hospitals within the same region. The perceived reasons for lower utilization rates include lack of physician knowledge, insufficient respiratory therapist training, and inadequate equipment. Educational programs directed at individual institutions may be useful to enhance utilization rates.