Background: Because little attention has been given to the long-term outcomes of patients in hospital-based ventilator weaning units, we undertook this assessment of 5-year outcomes of patients discharged from the Respiratory Special Care Unit (ReSCU) of the Cleveland Clinic Hospital.
Methods: The ReSCU consists of six private beds on a pulmonary specialty ward. Features of the unit include noninvasive monitoring with signal output at each bedside and at a central monitoring station. The unit is staffed by nurses with specific pulmonary rehabilitation expertise and has 24-h respiratory therapist supervision. Ongoing prospective data collection in the ReSCU includes monitoring weaning success, demographic features, hospital discharge status, and hospital discharge disposition. Long-term outcomes were ascertained using a review of hospital medical records and direct inquiry to patients and/or family members.
Results: Between August 22, 1993, and August 22, 1996, 162 individuals were admitted to the ReSCU, with 7 persons having repeat admissions during separate hospital admissions. Seventeen percent of these persons (n = 27) died during the hospitalization, while 83% were discharged from the index hospitalization (ie, the hospital stay during which the patient was first admitted to the ReSCU). Kaplan-Meier (KM) mortality rate estimates were as follows: 1 month, 11% (95% confidence interval [CI], 6 to 15%); 1 year, 57% (95% CI, 49 to 65%); 2 years, 68% (95% CI, 61 to 75%); 3 years, 73% (95% CI, 66 to 80%); 4 years, 76% (95% CI, 69 to 83%); and 5 years, 81% (95% CI, 75 to 87%). The 5-year KM mortality rate estimates considered by year of ReSCU admission were as follows: 1993, 92% (95% CI, 77 to 100%); 1994, 84% (95% CI, 73 to 95%); 1995, 87% (95% CI, 77 to 96%); and through August 22, 1996, 66% (95% CI, 51 to 81%).
Conclusions: In this population requiring prolonged inpatient ventilatory support, moderately high acute mortality rates are consistent with data from other series. In this analysis of longer-term follow-up rates, the 5-year survival rates are low, with higher mortality rates within the first 2 years and a slower decline in survival thereafter.