Computer Program Helps Wean Mechanical Ventilation

Program cuts weaning duration and total time on ventilation

MONDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A computer-based weaning program can reduce the time critical patients spend on mechanical ventilation and, in turn, help shorten their stay in the intensive care unit, according to a report in the Oct. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Since weaning accounts for about 40 percent of a patient's time on mechanical ventilation, Laurent Brochard, M.D., of the Hopital Henri Mondor in Creteil, France, and colleagues asked whether a computer-based program could hasten the time to spontaneous breathing compared with standard, physician-controlled methods. One hundred forty-four patients were randomized before weaning started.

The computer-based program was found to reduce weaning duration from a mean of five days to three days and cut total time on mechanical ventilation from 12 days to 7.5 days compared with standard care. The program also reduced the length of stay in the intensive care unit from 15.5 days to 12 days and did not cause adverse events.

"Some physicians may find computer-based protocols [for weaning] more acceptable than sharing responsibility with a respiratory therapist or a nurse," writes Gordon Rubenfeld, M.D., of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, in an editorial. "Computer-based protocols may be more effective, less expensive, or more reliable than implementation by non-physician clinicians."

Some authors have received compensation from, or are employees of, Draeger Medical AG.

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