Effect of a nurse-implemented sedation protocol on the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia

Crit Care Med. 2007 Sep;35(9):2031-6. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000282733.83089.4d.


Objective: To determine whether the use of a nurse-implemented sedation protocol could reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in critically ill patients.

Design: Two-phase (before-after), prospective, controlled study.

Setting: University-affiliated, 11-bed medical intensive care unit.

Patients: Patients requiring mechanical ventilation for >or=48 hrs and sedative infusion with midazolam or propofol alone.

Interventions: During the control phase, sedatives were adjusted according to the physician's decision. During the protocol phase, sedatives were adjusted according to a protocol developed by a multidisciplinary team including nurses and physicians. The protocol was based on the Cambridge scale, and sedation level was adjusted every 3 hrs by the nurses. Standard practices, including weaning from the ventilator and diagnosis of VAP, were the same during both study phases.

Measurements and main results: A total of 423 patients were enrolled (control group, n = 226; protocol group, n = 197). The incidence of VAP was significantly lower in the protocol group compared with the control group (6% and 15%, respectively, p = .005). By univariate analysis (log-rank test), only use of a nurse-implemented protocol was significantly associated with a decrease of incidence of VAP (p < .01). A nurse-implemented protocol was found to be independently associated with a lower incidence of VAP after adjustment on Simplified Acute Physiology Score II in the multivariate Cox proportional hazards model (hazard rate, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.62-0.95; p = .03). The median duration of mechanical ventilation was significantly shorter in the protocol group (4.2 days; interquartile range, 2.1-9.5) compared with the control group (8 days; interquartile range, 2.2-22.0; p = .001), representing a 52% relative reduction. Extubation failure was more frequently observed in the control group compared with the protocol group (13% and 6%, respectively, p = .01). There was no significant difference in in-hospital mortality (38% vs. 45% in the protocol vs. control group, respectively, p = .22).

Conclusions: In patients receiving mechanical ventilation and requiring sedative infusions with midazolam or propofol, the use of a nurse-implemented sedation protocol decreases the rate of VAP and the duration of mechanical ventilation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Conscious Sedation / nursing*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / prevention & control*
  • Propofol / administration & dosage
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies


  • Midazolam
  • Propofol