Variable compliance with clinical practice guidelines identified in a 1-day audit at 66 French adult intensive care units

Crit Care Med. 2012 Dec;40(12):3189-95. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e31826571f2.


Objective: Clinical guidelines should provide a framework for managing patients hospitalized in intensive care units. Little is known about guideline compliance in real-life practice. To evaluate compliance rates for a large bundle of intensive care unit practice guidelines and determine factors associated with noncompliance to these guidelines.

Design, setting, and patients: A bundle of 13 clinical guidelines was elaborated by a group of senior physicians. Four external consultants validated the process. Then, a 1-day audit was performed at 66 participating adult intensive care units in 39 institutions by a group of 64 junior investigators supervised by senior intensivists. At the bedside, investigators collected data from 625 patients hospitalized in those units.

Interventions and measurements: The eligibility and compliance rates were determined for each clinical recommendation. The rate of full compliance to each eligible clinical guideline was calculated. Mortality data were requested 28 days after the completion of the audit.

Main results: The eligibility rate ranged from 11% (sepsis bundle) to 80% (identified closest relative). The median compliance rate was 75% (60-100), ranging from 24% (sedation monitoring) to 96% (identified closest relative and bacteriological sampling before initiating antibiotics). Our results showed that only 24% (20-27) of patients in our cohort received fully compliant care. The 28-day survival probability was .77 (.73-.80).

Conclusions: At the bedside, clinical guidelines are fully applied in 24% of patients. Our study underlines the need to both improve the process of implementation and become cognizant of excessive proliferation of clinical guidelines.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • France
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*