Objective: Financial constraints and bed limitations frequently prevent admission of ill patients to a critical care setting. We surveyed the use of treatment with noninvasive ventilation (NIV) in clinical practice by physicians in a tertiary care, university-based teaching hospital and compared our findings with published recommendations for the use of NIV.
Methods: Data were collected prospectively on all patients with acute respiratory failure (ARF) for whom NIV was ordered over a 5-month period. The respiratory therapy department was responsible for administering NIV on written order by a physician. The respiratory therapist completed a survey form with patient tracking data for each initiation of NIV. The investigators then surveyed the clinical chart for clinical data.
Results: NIV was utilized for the treatment of ARF on 75 occasions during the 5-month period. Fourteen patients (18%) received NIV for a COPD exacerbation, and 61 patients (82%) received it for respiratory failure of other etiologies. NIV was initiated in the emergency department in 32% of patients, in a critical care setting in 27% of patients, in a ward observation unit in 23% of patients, and on a general medical or surgical ward in 18% of patients. Arterial blood gases (ABGs) were measured on 68 occasions prior to the initiation of NIV, and 51 patients had an ABG measurement within the first 6 h of treatment. The mean pH at baseline was 7.29, and 33% of patients had a baseline pH of < 7.25. Seven patients required endotracheal intubation (ETI) [13%], and there were 18 deaths (24%) with patients having do-not-resuscitate orders, accounting for 12 deaths.
Conclusion: NIV is commonly used outside of a critical care setting. Our outcomes of ETI and death were similar to those cited in the literature despite less aggressive monitoring of these patients.