Does a Starting Positive End-Expiratory Pressure of 8 cmH2O Decrease the Probability of a Ventilator-Associated Event?

Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 Nov 4;8:744651. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.744651. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Ventilator-associated events (VAEs) are objective measures as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To reduce VAEs, some hospitals have started patients on higher baseline positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) to avoid triggering VAE criteria due to respiratory fluctuations. Methods: At our institution, VAEs were gathered from January 2014 through December 2019. Using the CDC-defined classifications, VAEs were split into two groups to separate patients with hypoxemia only (VAC) and those with hypoxemia and evidence of inflammation or infection (IVAC-plus). We used the geometric distribution to calculate the daily event probability before and after the protocol implementation. A probability threshold was used to determine if the days between events was exceeded during the post-protocol period. Results: A total of 306 VAEs were collected over the study period. Of those, 155 were VACs and 107 were IVAC-plus events during the pre-protocol period. After implementing the protocol, 24 VACs and 20 IVAC-plus events were reported. There was a non-significant decrease in daily event probabilities in both the VAC and IVAC-plus groups (0.083 vs. 0.068 and 0.057 vs. 0.039, respectively). Conclusion: We concluded a starting PEEP of 8 cmH2O is unlikely to be an effective intervention at reducing the probability of a VAE. Until specific guidelines by the CDC are established, hospitals should consider alternative methods to reduce VAEs.

Keywords: positive expiratory pressure (PEEP); probability model; quality improvement; time between events; ventilator-associated event (VAE).