Objectives: To identify the incidence of unplanned extubations (UE) in a general intensive care unit (ICU) and associated risk factors.
Methods: An analytical, observational and prospective study was performed in an eight-bed general ICU over a 6-month period. The participants consisted of 79 consecutive patients who underwent mechanical ventilation for 12 h or more and who were under the ventilator weaning phase. The variables studied were age, days of endotracheal intubation, length of stay in the ICU, weaning phase and the APACHE II prognostic score; the degree of sedation and/or agitation was evaluated using Riker's Sedation-Agitation Scale. The incidence density of UEs was calculated and the variables measured in the extubated and non-extubated groups were compared using the Mann Whitney U-test.
Results: Among the 79 patients studied, UE occurred in 15 (18.9%). Of these events, 76.9% occurred during the ventilator weaning phase. There were 11 cases (73.3%) of self-extubations, three cases (20%) of accidental removal and one case (6.6%) of endotracheal tube obstruction. Age equal to or less than 60 years was a risk factor. No relationship was found with the remaining factors studied: days of hospital stay, days of endotracheal intubation or APACHE score.
Conclusions: Patients at risk for UE were younger and showed agitation on the Riker scale. UEs usually occurred during the ventilator weaning phase.