Clinician Recognition of the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Risk Factors for Under-Recognition and Trends Over Time

Crit Care Med. 2020 Jun;48(6):830-837. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000004328.

Abstract

Objectives: The acute respiratory distress syndrome is common in critically ill patients. Recognition is crucial because acute respiratory distress syndrome is associated with a high mortality rate, and low tidal volume ventilation improves mortality. However, acute respiratory distress syndrome often goes unrecognized. Risk factors for under-recognition and trends over time have not been fully described.

Design: Retrospective chart review of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome from a prospective cohort study of critically ill patients. For each patient's ICU stay, we searched the chart for terms that indicated that acute respiratory distress syndrome was diagnosed, in the differential diagnosis, or treated with low tidal volume ventilation.

Setting: ICUs at a tertiary hospital at the University of California, San Francisco between 2008 and 2016.

Patients: Critically ill patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: Acute respiratory distress syndrome was recognized in 70% of patients, and recognition increased from 60% in 2008-2009 to 92% in 2016 (p = 0.004). Use of tidal volumes less than 6.5 mL/kg also increased (p < 0.001) from 20% to 92%. Increased acute respiratory distress syndrome severity (p = 0.01) and vasopressor use (p = 0.04) were associated with greater recognition. Clinician diagnosis of acute respiratory distress syndrome and inclusion of acute respiratory distress syndrome in the differential diagnosis were associated with tidal volumes less than 6.5 mL/kg (51% use of tidal volume ≤ 6.5 mL/kg if acute respiratory distress syndrome recognized vs 15% if not recognized; p = 0.002). Diagnosing acute respiratory distress syndrome was associated with lower tidal volume in multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: Although acute respiratory distress syndrome recognition and low tidal volume ventilation use have increased over time, they remain less than universal. Clinician recognition of acute respiratory distress syndrome is associated with both systemic and respiratory severity of illness and is also associated with use of low tidal volume ventilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Delayed Diagnosis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • San Francisco
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Tidal Volume