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mechanical ventilation, quality improvement, spontaneous awakening trials



  1. Seyller, Nicole DNP, APRN, ACCNS-AG, CCRN-K, SCRN
  2. Makic, Mary Beth Flynn PhD, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K, FCNS, FAAN


Purpose/Objectives: Prolonged mechanical ventilation results from deeper levels of sedation. This may lead to impaired respiratory muscle functioning that develops into pneumonia, increases antibiotic use, increases delirium risk, and increases length of hospitalization. A trauma and surgical intensive care unit interdisciplinary team conducted a quality improvement project to lighten sedation levels and shorten mechanical ventilation time.


Description of the Project: The project included multimodal elements to improve sedation practice. Standardizing the spontaneous awakening trial algorithm, creation of electronic health record tools, integration of sedation practices into daily rounds, and focused education for nursing were implemented in April 2021 through October 2021.


Outcome: A reduction of median hours spent on mechanical ventilation was achieved. Mechanical ventilation hours decreased from 77 to 70. Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale levels improved from a median of -2 to -1, and daily spontaneous awakening trials increased from 10% to 27% completed.


Conclusion: The quality improvement project demonstrated that, with increased daily spontaneous awakening trials and lighter sedation levels, the time patients spent on mechanical ventilation was shortened. There was no increase to self-extubation with lighter sedations levels. Shorter time on mechanical ventilation can reduce patient harm risks.