Study objectives: Ventilator users who are unable to leave the acute care setting may be transferred to a unit for chronic assisted ventilatory care (CAVC) with the goal of optimizing their level of function. In this report, we summarize the outcomes of all patients admitted to a CAVC unit between 1986 and 2001.
Patients and methods: Fifty patients (24 with neuromuscular disease [NMD], 10 with spinal cord injury [SCI], 7 with thoracic restriction [TR], 7 with COPD, and 2 with parenchymal restriction [PR]) were reviewed. Thirty-eight patients were transferred to the CAVC unit from intensive care, 5 patients were transferred from inpatient respiratory rehabilitation, 4 patients came from home, and 3 patients came from pediatric long-term care. At the time of CAVC unit admission, all patients were receiving mechanical ventilation via a tracheostomy tube.
Results: Ventilator time increased gradually in patients with COPD from 16 h (SD, 5.6) to 22.9 h (SD, 3.0) per day (p < 0.05), and in patients with TR from 18.9 h (SD, 6.1) to 22.9 h (SD, 4.5) [not significant]. Five of the 10 patients with SCI were decannulated. Functional mobility, which decreased in patients with COPD and patients with TR, remained stable in NMD and PR and improved in SCI. Eighteen patients returned home or to an attendant care facility (COPD, n = 1; NMD, n = 10; SCI, n = 5; PR, n = 2); 11 patients died in the CAVC unit (COPD, n = 6; TR, n = 3; NMD, n = 1; SCI, n = 1); and 7 patients were transferred to intensive care, where they died. The average direct cost per patient per diem increased from $252 (Canadian) in 1988 to $335 in 2001.
Conclusion: A CAVC unit can provide a safe environment for severely impaired, ventilator-dependent individuals, many of whom (36%) left for a more independent community-based environment. Better outcomes were seen among patients with SCI and NMD than in patients with COPD and TR.