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BACKGROUND: There is good evidence to support the use of a "protective" ventilation strategy, using small tidal volumes and inspiratory pressures, in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Many general intensive care units in the UK are being slow to adopt this approach and we therefore set out to devise a method to audit ventilation and possibly influence practice in these units. METHODS: Using variables that are routinely documented by intensive care nurses, we assessed the relationship between ventilator settings and arterial blood gas values on 30 consecutive ventilated patients admitted to intensive care units at both a teaching and a district hospital. Data were recorded twice daily and the proportions of data points where there was unnecessary hyperventilation were recorded at each centre. RESULTS: The initial audit results showed clear differences in practice between the teaching hospital and the district hospital. After an intensive education programme, during which an active role for nursing staff in ventilator management was encouraged, supported by simple protocols, practice in the district hospital was re-audited and found to closely mirror that in the teaching centre. CONCLUSIONS: To assist progress towards the use of a "protective" ventilation strategy in intensive care units in the UK, we devised a simple, robust audit method. We have shown how this method can give a more uniform practice of ventilation in critical care units, with the introduction of nurse-run protocols.


Journal article


Br J Anaesth

Publication Date





419 - 420


Critical Care, England, Hospitals, District, Hospitals, General, Hospitals, Teaching, Humans, Medical Audit, Patient Care Team, Positive-Pressure Respiration, Professional Practice, Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Adult