Challenges with implementation of a respiratory therapist–driven protocol of spontaneous breathing trials in the pediatric ICU

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BACKGROUND: Timely ventilator liberation is crucial in the pediatric ICU. In many pediatric ICUs, the decision to initiate weaning is driven by the physician, which may lead to delays in ventilator liberation. The objectives of this quality improvement project were to develop and implement a respiratory therapist (RT)–led protocol for screening for spontaneous breathing trial (SBT) readiness, to test protocol feasibility, and to evaluate its impact on SBT timing. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed on all intubated patients in the pediatric ICU for 18 months prior to protocol institution. An RT-driven protocol was developed and implemented, enabling consistent screening for SBT readiness. When criteria were met, an SBT was initiated after order placement. The difference in the timing of the first SBT between physician-directed screening and the RT-driven protocol was evaluated. RESULTS: A total of 219 subjects were included in this project (128 pre-intervention; 91 intervention). Baseline demographic data, including mortality risk and endotracheal tube size, were similar in both groups. The time of the first SBT (median [25th, 75th percentile]) was not significantly different between the intervention and preintervention groups (39.5 [25.3, 85.2] vs 42.6 [26.4, 81.3], respectively). There was no difference in mechanical ventilation duration, or length of hospital and ICU stay. The odds of being placed on noninvasive respiratory support were higher in the intervention group at 1 h (odds ratio [95% CI]: 2.29 [1.10, 4.78], P =.03) and 12 h (odds ratio 2.53 [1.23, 5.20], P =.01) postextubation, but the odds of re-intubation did not reach statistical significance (odds ratio 2.60 [0.73, 9.27], P =.14). RT adherence with patient screening was 56.4%. CONCLUSIONS: An RT-driven protocol was successfully introduced in an academic pediatric ICU. However, it did not impact time of SBT initiation, potentially due to the difficulty in maintaining adherence over time. RT-driven protocols require further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1240
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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