A community-based regional ventilator weaning unit: development and outcomes

Chest. 1997 Apr;111(4):1024-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.111.4.1024.


Study objective: Description of the development of a community-based weaning unit and the outcomes from that unit.

Design: Review of admissions, classified by etiology of ventilator dependence, with attention to disposition, length of stay, and time to wean.

Setting: Long-term acute-care facility in Worcester, Mass.

Patients: Two hundred seventy-eight ventilator-dependent patients admitted to a ventilator unit from 1988 through May 1995. Admissions criteria did not include prognostic considerations.

Interventions: Selected patients were entered into a formal weaning program beginning in 1992.

Measurements: Through the study period, there was a substantial growth in annual admissions, primarily due to increases in patients surviving a catastrophic acute illness. Overall, 107 of 278 (38%) patients were liberated from mechanical ventilation for at least 7 consecutive days and nights. Of the patients admitted 1993 to 1995, 31% died, 20% were discharged to a long-term care facility, 29% returned home, and 18% either remained as residents of the unit or had been transferred to acute-care facilities and were unavailable for follow-up. The highest weaning success was seen in patients with ventilator dependence from postoperative causes (58%) and acute lung injury (57%); the least success was seen in patients with ventilator dependence from COPD and neuromuscular diseases (22% each). The average time from admission to weaning fell within each diagnostic category throughout the study period.

Conclusions: Rehabilitation-based ventilator weaning units play an important role in the spectrum of medical care necessary in population centers. Excellent results can result from community-based units with open admissions policies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catastrophic Illness
  • Female
  • Hospital Units*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Lung Diseases / therapy
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy
  • Postoperative Care
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ventilator Weaning* / economics