Background: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) remains a major source of morbidity, mortality, and expense in the ICU despite therapies directed against it.
Study design: A retrospective review of a prospectively developed performance-improvement project monitoring the incidence of VAP in two adjacent ICUs was conducted. In response to an excessive VAP rate, weekly multidisciplinary team meetings were instituted to review data, develop care protocols, and modify care routines. Protocol compliance was monitored daily and feedback provided weekly to the care teams. VAP rates were determined by the institutional Infection Control Committee and reviewed monthly with the ICU multidisciplinary team. Duration of the investigational period was 10 years.
Results: A standardized ventilator-weaning protocol was instituted with confirmed 95% use. Additional modifications of care, such as patient positioning, use of specific endotracheal tubes to minimize aspiration of supraglottic secretions, an oral-care regimen, and aggressive antibiotic stewardship were standardized, with a compliance rate >90%. VAP rates dropped from 12.8 per 1,000 patient-days in 1998 to 1.1 in 2007 in the burn trauma ICU and from 21.2 to <1 in the neurotrauma ICU in the same time frame. Also, mean ventilator length of stay decreased from 6 days to 4.2 and from 5.8 days to 4.75 simultaneously in the respective ICUs. Such performance improvement has been sustained since implementation of the program.
Conclusion: A systematic, monitored program of standardized care protocols can markedly reduce VAP rate in the ICU.