Unplanned extubation: risk factors of development and predictive criteria for reintubation

Crit Care Med. 1998 Jun;26(6):1049-53. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199806000-00026.


Objectives: To define patients at risk for unplanned extubation; to assess the influence of nursing workload on the incidence of unplanned extubation; and to determine predictive criteria for patients requiring reintubation.

Design: A prospective, case-control study, with 10 and 15 mos of data collection.

Setting: University medical intensive care department.

Patients: In the first study, which lasted 10 mos, unplanned extubation occurred in 40 (14%) of 281 ventilated and intubated patients; 36 cases were sufficiently documented to be compared with 74 intubated and ventilated controls. In the second study, which lasted 15 mos, the reintubated patients (n=23) of a series of 62 unplanned extubation patients were compared with those who were not reintubated (n=39).

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: The following parameters were recorded: gender, age, main reason for admission, Simplified Acute Physiology Score II, route of intubation (oral or nasotracheal), tube diameter, ventilatory mode, FiO2, frequency and tidal volume delivered by the ventilator immediately before unplanned extubation, arterial blood gases performed 24 hrs before unplanned extubation, the presence of any sedation with, in this case, the last Ramsay score, the presence of hand restraints, the presence of weaning of ventilation, the accidental or deliberate nature of unplanned extubation, the Glasgow Coma Score at the time of unplanned extubation, the duration of ventilation before unplanned extubation, total duration of ventilation and stay in the intensive care unit, and the patient's survival or death. The nursing workload was evaluated using a score derived from the Projet de Recherche en Nursing and adapted to intensive care. Unplanned extubation patients were more frequently intubated orally than controls (33.3% vs. 14.9%, respectively; p< .05). In the population of sedated patients, unplanned extubation patients were more frequently agitated than controls (60% vs. 19%, respectively; p < .05). The nursing workload did not differ between days with and days without unplanned extubation. Twenty-three (37%) of the 62 cases of documented unplanned extubation were reintubated. Predictive factors of reintubation are, in decreasing order of importance: Glasgow Coma Score of <11, accidental nature of unplanned extubation, and a PaO2/FiO2 ratio <200 torr (<26.7 kPa).

Conclusions: Patients at risk for unplanned extubation are characterized by oral intubation and insufficient sedation. In the department studied, and with the specific score used, we did not observe a relationship between the nursing workload and the incidence of unplanned extubation. A Glasgow Coma Score of <11, the accidental nature of unplanned extubation, and a PaO2/FiO2 ratio <200 torr (<26.7 kPa) are factors associated with a risk of reintubation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Intubation, Intratracheal* / nursing
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation
  • Respiration, Artificial / nursing
  • Restraint, Physical
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Refusal*
  • Ventilator Weaning
  • Workload


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives