The clinical impact and preventability of ventilator-associated conditions in critically ill patients who are mechanically ventilated

Chest. 2013 Nov;144(5):1453-1460. doi: 10.1378/chest.13-0853.


Background: Ventilator-associated conditions (VACs) and infection-related ventilator-associated complications (iVACs) are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new surveillance paradigms for patients who are mechanically ventilated. Little is known regarding the clinical impact and preventability of VACs and iVACs and their relationship to ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). We evaluated these using data from a large, multicenter, quality-improvement initiative.

Methods: We retrospectively applied definitions for VAC and iVAC to data from a prospective time series study in which VAP clinical practice guidelines were implemented in 11 North American ICUs. Each ICU enrolled 30 consecutive patients mechanically ventilated > 48 h during each of four study periods. Data on clinical outcomes and concordance with prevention recommendations were collected. VAC, iVAC, and VAP rates over time, the agreement (κ statistic) between definitions, associated morbidity/mortality, and independent risk factors for each were determined.

Results: Of 1,320 patients, 139 (10.5%) developed a VAC, 65 (4.9%) developed an iVAC, and 148 (11.2%) developed VAP. The agreement between VAP and VAC was 0.18, and between VAP and iVAC it was 0.19. Patients who developed a VAC or iVAC had significantly more ventilator days, hospital days, and antibiotic days and higher hospital mortality than patients who had neither of these conditions. Increased concordance with VAP prevention guidelines during the study was associated with decreased VAP and VAC rates but no change in iVAC rates.

Conclusions: VACs and iVACs are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although the agreement between VAC, iVAC, and VAP is poor, a higher adoption of measures to prevent VAP was associated with lower VAP and VAC rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents