A research program that trained staff on best practices for treating ventilated patients reduced the prevalence of ventilator-associated events, reports Infection Control Today. 

During the study period, the research team trained and coached quality improvement teams that included providers and staff at the designated sites, focusing on currently recommended interventions by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Society of Critical Care Medicine for patients on ventilators, including elevating the head of a patient’s bed, suctioning a patient’s mouth tube, performing oral care, such as tooth brushing and using chlorhexidine, a mouthwash that reduces dental plaque and treats gingivitis, and performing spontaneous awakening and breathing trials by reducing narcotics and sedatives and screening the patient for improvement.

Teams were also trained to implement the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, or CUSP, on their units, a five-step culture change intervention that engages frontline health care staff members in preventing harm.

During the study period, the total number of ventilator-associated events in the ICUs decreased from 7.34 cases per 1,000 patient ventilator days to 4.58 cases after 24 months — nearly a 38% reduction. The number of infection-related ventilator-associated complications dropped from 3.15 to 1.56 cases, or more than 50 percent, and possible and probable ventilator-associated pneumonia cases dropped from 1.41 to .31 cases per 1,000 patient ventilator days, a 78% reduction.

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