Mechanical Ventilation, Weaning Practices, and Decision Making in European PICUs*

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Abstract

Objectives:

This survey had three key objectives: 1) To describe responsibility for key ventilation and weaning decisions in European PICUs and explore variations across Europe; 2) To describe the use of protocols, spontaneous breathing trials, noninvasive ventilation, high-flow nasal cannula use, and automated weaning systems; and 3) To describe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios and perceived nursing autonomy and influence over ventilation decision making.

Design:

Cross-sectional electronic survey.

Setting:

European PICUs.

Participants:

Senior ICU nurse and physician from participating PICUs.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements and Main Results:

Response rate was 64% (65/102) representing 19 European countries. Determination of weaning failure was most commonly based on collaborative decision making (81% PICUs; 95% CI, 70–89%). Compared to this decision, selection of initial ventilator settings and weaning method was least likely to be collaborative (relative risk, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.20–0.47 and relative risk, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.32–0.45). Most PICUs (> 75%) enabled physicians in registrar (fellow) positions to have responsibility for key ventilation decisions. Availability of written guidelines/protocols for ventilation (31%), weaning (22%), and noninvasive ventilation (33%) was uncommon, whereas sedation protocols (66%) and sedation assessment tools (76%) were common. Availability of protocols was similar across European regions (all p > 0.05). High-flow nasal cannula (53%), noninvasive ventilation (52%) to avoid intubation, and spontaneous breathing trials (44%) were used in approximately half the PICUs greater than 50% of the time. A nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:2 was most frequent for invasively (50%) and noninvasively (70%) ventilated patients. Perceived nursing autonomy (median [interquartile range], 4 [2–6]) and influence (median [interquartile range], 7 [5–8]) for ventilation and weaning decisions varied across Europe (p = 0.007 and p = 0.01, respectively) and were highest in Northern European countries.

Conclusions:

We found variability across European PICUs in interprofessional team involvement for ventilation decision making, nurse staffing, and perceived nursing autonomy and influence over decisions. Patterns of adoption of tools/adjuncts for weaning and sedation were similar.

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