Unplanned extubation in the intensive care unit: a quality-of-care concern

Crit Care Nurs Q. 1994 Nov;17(3):40-7. doi: 10.1097/00002727-199411000-00007.


A 1-month prospective quality improvement audit was performed to determine the incidence of self-extubation in the intensive care units (ICUs) at the Westchester County Medical Center (WCMC), a 625-bed tertiary care hospital with 92 intensive care beds in 11 ICUs. During the 1-month study period, there were seven unplanned extubations in six of 121 intubated patients, or one unplanned extubation for every 136 patient-ventilator days. Based on the initial review, a corrective action plan was initiated that consisted of education of nurses and house staff about the problem of unplanned extubation, daily assessment on rounds of patient risk of unplanned extubation, and careful documentation of any episodes of unplanned extubation. A 5-month follow-up review identified 12 unplanned extubations in 11 patients, which resulted in a reduced rate of one unplanned extubation per 455 patient-ventilator days. Risk factors for unplanned extubation included documented anxiety, routine care intervention, and a history of previous unplanned extubation. Unplanned extubation can be a serious complication associated with mortality and therefore is a quality-of-care concern. However, the majority of patients with this complication did well and were discharged from the hospital. The incidence of unplanned extubation can be reduced but not eliminated by a program of education and attention to risk factors for unplanned extubation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / nursing*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*
  • Risk Factors