(1) Estimate the proportion of mechanically ventilated (MV) intensive care unit (ICU) patients meeting basic communication criteria who could potentially be served by assistive communication tools and speech-language consultation. (2) Compare characteristics of patients who met communication criteria with those who did not.Design
Observational cohort study in which computerized billing and medical records were screened over a 2-year period.Setting
Six specialty ICUs across two hospitals in an academic health system.Participants
Eligible patients were awake, alert, and responsive to verbal communication from clinicians for at least one 12-h nursing shift while receiving MV ≥ 2 consecutive days.Main results
Of the 2671 MV patients screened, 1440 (53.9%) met basic communication criteria. The Neurological ICU had the lowest proportion of MV patients meeting communication criteria (40.82%); Trauma ICU had the highest proportion (69.97%). MV patients who did not meet basic communication criteria (n = 1231) were younger, had shorter lengths of stay and lower costs, and were more likely to die during the hospitalization.Conclusions
We estimate that half of MV patients in the ICU could potentially be served by assistive communication tools and speech-language consultation.