Human and financial costs of noninvasive mechanical ventilation in patients affected by COPD and acute respiratory failure

Chest. 1997 Jun;111(6):1631-8. doi: 10.1378/chest.111.6.1631.


Study objectives: It has been suggested that noninvasive mechanical ventilation (NIMV) may be a time-consuming procedure for medical and paramedical personnel. We carried out a prospective trial in 10 consecutive COPD patients aimed at assessing the human and economic resources needed to ventilate patients by NIMV and we compared these with those needed by a group of six patients receiving invasive mechanical ventilation (InMV).

Design: The daily cost and the minutes spent by medical doctors (MDs), respiratory therapists (RTs), and nurses (Ns) were recorded during the first 48 h of ventilation in 10 patients during NIMV (group A) and in six who received InMV (group B) after an initial unsuccessful attempt with NIMV. In two subgroups of patients (five for group A and four for group B), the analysis was also performed, except for RTs, for the total length of mechanical ventilation.

Setting: A respiratory ICU.

Patients: At hospital admission, the two groups of COPD patients did not differ for blood gas values (PaCO2 = 88.2+/-9.8 mm Hg for group A vs 90.5+/-12.8 mm Hg for group B, and pH = 7.21+0.08 vs 7.20+0.08, respectively) or for clinical and neurologic status, but patients of group B had not tolerated NIMV.

Measurements and results: The total time spent at the bedside in the first 6 h did not differ between group A and B (group A = 72.3 min [MD], 87.2 min [RT], and 178.8 min [N] vs 98.8 min [MD], 12.5 min [RT], and 197.6 min [N] for group B). In the following 42 h, a plateau was reached so that there was a significant reduction for both groups in the time of assistance given by Ns (p<0.001) but not by MDs or RTs. The total costs were also not different between the two groups ($806+/-73 [US dollars per day] vs $864+/-44 for group A and B, respectively). In the subgroups monitored for the entire period of ventilation, a significant reduction in the time of assistance, for both MDs and Ns, was observed after approximately the first half.

Conclusions: We conclude that in the first 48 h of ventilation, daily NIMV is neither more expensive nor time-consuming and staff demanding than InMV. After the first few days of ventilation, NIMV was significantly less time-consuming than InMV, for MDs and Ns, so that medical and paramedical time expenditure seems not to be a major problem during NIMV.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Allied Health Personnel / economics
  • Allied Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / economics*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / therapy
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / economics
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / economics
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rehabilitation Centers / economics*
  • Respiration, Artificial / economics*
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Respiration, Artificial / nursing*
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / economics*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Ventilator Weaning / economics
  • Ventilator Weaning / nursing
  • Ventilator Weaning / statistics & numerical data
  • Workload / economics
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data