Rationale: Accurate surveillance of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is hampered by subjective diagnostic criteria. A novel surveillance paradigm for ventilator-associated events (VAEs) was introduced.
Objectives: To determine the validity of surveillance using the new VAE algorithm.
Methods: Prospective cohort study in two Dutch academic medical centers (2011-2012). VAE surveillance was electronically implemented and included assessment of (infection-related) ventilator-associated conditions (VAC, IVAC) and VAP. Concordance with ongoing prospective VAP surveillance was assessed, along with clinical diagnoses underlying VAEs and associated mortality of all conditions. Consequences of minor differences in electronic VAE implementation were evaluated.
Measurements and main results: The study included 2,080 patients with 2,296 admissions. Incidences of VAC, IVAC, VAE-VAP, and VAP according to prospective surveillance were 10.0, 4.2, 3.2, and 8.0 per 1000 ventilation days, respectively. The VAE algorithm detected at most 32% of the patients with VAP identified by prospective surveillance. VAC signals were most often caused by volume overload and infections, but not necessarily VAP. Subdistribution hazards for mortality were 3.9 (95% confidence interval, 2.9-5.3) for VAC, 2.5 (1.5-4.1) for IVAC, 2.0 (1.1-3.6) for VAE-VAP, and 7.2 (5.1-10.3) for VAP identified by prospective surveillance. In sensitivity analyses, mortality estimates varied considerably after minor differences in electronic algorithm implementation.
Conclusions: Concordance between the novel VAE algorithm and VAP was poor. Incidence and associated mortality of VAE were susceptible to small differences in electronic implementation. More studies are needed to characterize the clinical entities underlying VAE and to ensure comparability of rates from different institutions.