Background: In this study, we updated the state of knowledge on unplanned tracheal extubations in the intensive care unit. We focused on the following topics: incidence, risk factors, reintubation after unplanned extubation, outcomes, and prevention. Based on this review, recommendations were made for preventing unplanned extubations.
Methods: Electronic databases were searched for relevant publications from January 1, 1950 through June 30, 2011 on the MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, SciELO, LILACS, and Cochrane systems. Fifty articles were eligible for data abstraction. Study quality was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Grades of recommendation were assessed according to the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.
Results: Unplanned extubations occur at a rate of 0.1 to 3.6 events per 100 intubation days. Risk factors associated with unplanned extubations included male gender (odds ratio [OR] 4.8), APACHE score ≥17 (OR 9.0), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, restlessness/agitation (OR 3.3-30.6), lower sedation level (OR 2.0-5.4), higher consciousness level (OR 1.4-2.0), and use of physical restraints (OR 3.1). Reintubation rates ranged from 1.8% to 88% of unplanned extubations. Thirteen studies assessed preventive measures for avoiding unplanned extubations. These studies focused on data collection tools, standardization of procedures, staff education, staff surveillance, and identification and management of high-risk patients. These studies reported reductions in unplanned extubation rate from 22% to 53%. The best methods of securing the endotracheal tube and use of physical restraints remain controversial issues.
Conclusions: Despite numerous publications on unplanned extubation, few studies assess preventive strategies for adverse events, and few clinical trials have assessed unplanned extubations. Recommendations are proposed based on the currently available literature.