Implementation of the "FASTHUG" concept decreases the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in a surgical intensive care unit

Patient Saf Surg. 2008 Feb 12;2:3. doi: 10.1186/1754-9493-2-3.


Background: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in critically ill patients. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement 100,000 Lives Campaign made VAP a target of prevention and performance improvement. Additionally, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Organizations' 2007 Disease Specific National Patient Safety Goals included the reduction of healthcare-associated infections. We report implementation of a performance improvement project that dramatically reduced our VAP rate that had exceeded the 90th percentile nationally.

Methods: From 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2005 a performance improvement project was undertaken to decrease our critical care unit VAP rate. In year one (2004) procedural interventions were highlighted: aggressive oral care, early extubation, management of soiled or malfunctioning respiratory equipment, hand washing surveillance, and maximal sterile barrier precautions. In year two (2005) an evaluative concept called FASTHUG (daily evaluation of patients' feeding, analgesia, sedation, thromboembolic prophylaxis, elevation of the head of the bed, ulcer prophylaxis, and glucose control) was implemented. To determine the long-term effectiveness of such an intervention a historical control period (2003) and the procedural intervention period of 2004, i.e., the pre-FASTHUG period (months 1-24) were compared with an extended post-FASTHUG period (months 25-54).

Results: The 2003 surgical intensive care VAP rate of 19.3/1000 ventilator-days served as a historical control. Procedural interventions in 2004 were not effective in reducing VAP, p = 0.62. However, implementation of FASTHUG in 2005, directed by a critical care team, resulted in a rate of 7.3/1000 ventilator-days, p </= .01. The median pneumonia rate was lower after implementation of FASTHUG when compared to the historical control year (p = .028) and the first year after the procedural interventions (p = .041) using follow-up pairwise comparisons. The pre-FASTHUG period (2003-2004, months 1-24) when compared with an extended post-FASTHUG period (2005-2007, 25-54 months) also demonstrated a significant decrease in the VAP rate, p = .0004. This reduction in the post-FASTHUG period occurred despite a rising Severity of Illness index in critically ill patients, p = .001.

Conclusion: Implementation of the FASTHUG concept, in the daily evaluation of mechanically ventilated patients, significantly decreased our surgical intensive care unit VAP rate.