Ventilator-associated events: Definition and prevention

August 19, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new ventilator-associated event (VAE) definitions in 2013 and, while more than 2000 hospitals in the United States report their VAE rates to the CDC, they still struggle to reduce incidence.

The new definition is broader than the previous one and includes complications that are associated with mechanical ventilation and allow for a more simplified and objective surveillance based on changes in a patient’s ventilator settings. This metric provides feedback to hospitals on episodes of respiratory deterioration, which can lead to severe illness and mortality. A VAE is defined as follows: at least two days of stable or decreasing ventilator settings followed by at least two days of increased ventilator settings.

Four common conditions that are often associated with ventilator-associated events are pneumonia, atelectasis, fluid overload and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Process improvement around these four medical conditions includes decreasing ventilator utilization, minimizing sedation, pairing spontaneous awakening and breathing trails, mobilizing patients early and conservatively managing fluids. These strategies support improving patient outcomes and decrease ventilator-associated events.

More information on this topic is available in the article “Potential Strategies to Prevent Ventilator-associated Events” from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Contact Tina Seery to learn more about WSHA’s work to reduce VAE.


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