Objective: To determine intensive care nurses' knowledge of evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).
Design: A survey using a validated multiple-choice questionnaire, developed to evaluate nurses' knowledge of VAP prevention. The questionnaire was distributed and collected during the annual congress of the Flemish Society for Critical Care Nurses (Ghent, November 2005). Demographic data included were gender, years of intensive care experience, number of critical beds, and whether respondents hold a special degree in emergency and intensive care.
Main results: We collected 638 questionnaires (response rate 74.6%). Nineteen percent of the respondents recognized the oral route as the recommended way for intubation. It was known by 49% of respondents that ventilator circuits should be changed for each new patient. Heat and moisture exchangers were checked as the recommended type of humidifier by 55% of respondents, but only 13% knew that it is recommended to change them once weekly. Closed suctioning systems were identified as recommended by 17% of respondents, and 20% knew that these must be changed for each new patient only. Sixty percent and 49%, respectively, recognized subglottic drainage and kinetic beds to reduce the incidence of VAP. Semi-recumbent positioning is well known to prevent VAP (90%). The average knowledge level was higher among more experienced nurses (> 1 year experience) and those holding a special degree in emergency and intensive care.
Conclusion: Nurses lack knowledge regarding recommendations for VAP prevention. Nurses' schooling and continuing education should include support from current evidence-based guidelines.