Objectives: (1) Estimate the proportion of mechanically ventilated (MV) intensive care unit (ICU) patients meeting basic communication criteria who could potentially be served by assistive communication tools and speech-language consultation. (2) Compare characteristics of patients who met communication criteria with those who did not.
Design: Observational cohort study in which computerized billing and medical records were screened over a 2-year period.
Setting: Six specialty ICUs across two hospitals in an academic health system.
Participants: Eligible patients were awake, alert, and responsive to verbal communication from clinicians for at least one 12-h nursing shift while receiving MV ≥ 2 consecutive days.
Main results: Of the 2671 MV patients screened, 1440 (53.9%) met basic communication criteria. The Neurological ICU had the lowest proportion of MV patients meeting communication criteria (40.82%); Trauma ICU had the highest proportion (69.97%). MV patients who did not meet basic communication criteria (n = 1231) were younger, had shorter lengths of stay and lower costs, and were more likely to die during the hospitalization.
Conclusions: We estimate that half of MV patients in the ICU could potentially be served by assistive communication tools and speech-language consultation.
Keywords: Artificial respiration; Communication; Intensive care unit; Nursing; Patient communication.
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