Cumulative Probability and Time to Reintubation in U.S. ICUs

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Reintubation after liberation from mechanical ventilation is viewed as an adverse event in ICUs. We sought to describe the frequency of reintubations across U.S. ICUs and to propose a standard, appropriate time cutoff for reporting of reintubation events.

Design and Setting:

We conducted a cohort study using data from the Project IMPACT database of 185 diverse ICUs in the United States.


We included patients who received mechanical ventilation and excluded patients who received a tracheostomy, had a do-not-resuscitate order placed, or died prior to first extubation.

Measurements and Main Results:

We assessed the percentage of patients extubated who were reintubated; the cumulative probability of reintubation, with death and do-not-resuscitate orders after extubation modeled as competing risks, and time to reintubation. Among 98,367 patients who received mechanical ventilation without death or tracheostomy prior to extubation, 9,907 (10.1%) were reintubated, with a cumulative probability of 10.0%. Median time to reintubation was 15 hours (interquartile range, 2–45 hr). Of patients who required reintubation in the ICU, 90% did so within the first 96 hours after initial extubation; this was consistent across various patient subtypes (89.3% for electives surgical patients up to 94.8% for trauma patients) and ICU subtypes (88.6% for cardiothoracic ICUs to 93.5% for medical ICUs).


The reintubation rate for ICU patients liberated from mechanical ventilation in U.S. ICUs is approximately 10%. We propose a time cutoff of 96 hours for reintubation definitions and benchmarking efforts, as it captures 90% of ICU reintubation events. Reintubation rates can be reported as simple percentages, without regard for deaths or changes in goals of care that might occur.

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