Implementation of an institutional program to improve clinical and financial outcomes of mechanically ventilated patients: One-year outcomes and lessons learned*

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To determine the effect of an institutional approach to the care of patients requiring mechanical ventilation for longer than three consecutive days in five adult intensive care units (ICU) on clinical and financial outcomes.


A multidisciplinary team was selected from five adult ICUs to design the approach. Planning occurred from August 1999 to September 2000. The process was called outcomes management (OM) and included an evidence-based clinical pathway, protocols for weaning and sedation use, and the selection of four advanced practice nurses (called outcomes managers) to manage and monitor the program.


The project was completed in a 550-bed mid-Atlantic academic medical center. The ICUs included the following: coronary care, medical ICU, neuroscience ICU, surgical trauma ICU, and thoracic cardiovascular ICU.


The sample included 595 pre-OM patients and 510 post-OM patients mechanically ventilated for greater than three consecutive days.


Full implementation of the OM approach occurred in March 2001. Retrospective baseline (18 months pre-OM) and prospective (12 months OM) clinical and financial data were compared.

Measurements and Main Results

Statistically significant differences in clinical outcomes were demonstrated in the managed patients compared with those managed before the institutional approach. Outcomes include ventilator duration (median days declined from ten to nine; p = .0001), ICU length of stay (median days declined from 15 to 12; p = .0008), hospital length of stay (median days declined from 22 to 20; p = .0001), and mortality rate (declined from 38% to 31%, p = .02). More than $3,000,000 cost savings were realized in the OM group.


This institutional approach to the care of patients ventilated >3 days improved all clinical and financial outcomes of interest. To date, few similar initiatives have demonstrated similar results. The approach and lessons learned in this process improvement project may be helpful to other institutions attempting to improve outcomes in this vulnerable population.

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