Prolonged mechanical ventilation in Canadian intensive care units: a national survey

J Crit Care. 2015 Feb;30(1):25-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.07.023. Epub 2014 Jul 31.


Background: We sought to describe prevalence and care practices for patients experiencing prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV), defined as ventilation for 21 or more consecutive days and medical stability.

Methods: We provided the survey to eligible units via secure Web link to a nominated unit champion from April to November 2012. Weekly telephone and e-mail reminders were sent for 6 weeks.

Results: Response rate was 215 (90%) of 238 units identifying 308 patients requiring PMV on the survey day occupying 11% of all Canadian ventilator-capable beds. Most units (81%) used individualized plans for both weaning and mobilization. Weaning and mobilization protocols were available in 48% and 38% of units, respectively. Of those units with protocols, only 25% reported weaning guidance specific to PMV, and 11% reported mobilization content for PMV. Only 30% of units used specialized mobility equipment. Most units referred to speech language pathologists (88%); use of communication technology was infrequent (11%). Only 29% routinely referred to psychiatry/psychology, and 17% had formal discharge follow-up services.

Conclusions: Prolonged mechanical ventilation patients occupied 11% of Canadian acute care ventilator bed capacity. Most units preferred an individualized approach to weaning and mobilization with considerable variation in weaning methods, protocol availability, access to specialized rehabilitation equipment, communication technology, psychiatry, and discharge follow-up.

Keywords: Intensive care; Mechanical ventilation; Mobilization; Prolonged mechanical ventilation; Rehabilitation; Weaning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / therapy
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bed Occupancy / statistics & numerical data
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication
  • Critical Care
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Deglutition
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiration, Artificial / standards
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data*
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Sepsis / therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Ventilator Weaning / methods
  • Ventilator Weaning / standards
  • Ventilator Weaning / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult