Non-invasive mechanical ventilation in Australian emergency departments: a prospective observational cohort study

Int J Nurs Stud. 2009 May;46(5):617-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.10.009. Epub 2008 Dec 11.


Objectives: Data describing use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in the emergency department (ED) setting consist primarily of physician surveys. Our objective was to conduct a prospective study to document the characteristics of patients receiving NIV, interfaces, mode, and parameters used as well as NIV duration and decision-making responsibility.

Methods: We conducted a 2-month prospective observational study of adult patients who received NIV in 24 EDs. Patient characteristics, delivery methods, and decision-making responsibility were documented for each ED presentation.

Results: Data were recorded on 245 patients; 185 patients received non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) and 60 received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (ACPO) (80/245, 33%) and exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (75/245, 31%) were the two most frequent indications for NIV. Compared to patients with respiratory failure from other aetiologies, those with ACPO were more likely to receive CPAP (28/80 [35%] versus 32/165 [19%] P=0.008). Initial NIV settings were selected by ED nurses for 118/245 (48%) patients, by ED physicians for 118/245 (48%) patients, and by ICU staff for 3/245 (1.5%) patients (not reported for 6 [2.5%] patients). The role of ED nurses in the selection of initial NIV settings was not influenced by ED location, patient type or triage category.

Conclusions: Acute exacerbations of CPO and COPD were the most common indications for NIV. Clinicians demonstrated a preference for NIPPV for all patient aetiologies except ACPO. Responsibility for NIV management was shared by ED nurses and physicians.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / therapy
  • Respiration, Artificial*