Secretion clearance strategies in Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Units

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Journal Article
Australian Critical Care, 2018, 31 (4), pp. 191 - 196
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© 2017 Introduction/aims: To describe the processes of care for secretion clearance in adult, intubated and mechanically ventilated patients in Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Methods/results: A prospective, cross-sectional study was conducted through the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group (ANZICS CTG) Point Prevalence Program. Forty-seven ICUs collected data from 230 patients intubated and ventilated on the study day. Secretion clearance techniques beyond standard suctioning were used in 84/230 (37%) of patients during the study period. Chest wall vibration 34/84 (40%), manual lung hyperinflation 24/84 (29%), chest wall percussion 20/84 (24%), postural drainage/patient positioning 17/84 (20%) and other techniques including mobilisation 15/84 (18%), were the most common secretion clearance techniques employed. On average (SD), patients received airway suctioning 8.8 (5.0) times during the 24-h study period. Mucus plugging events were infrequent (2.7%). The additional secretion clearance techniques were provided by physiotherapy staff in 24/47 (51%) ICUs and by both nursing and physiotherapy staff in the remaining 23/47 (49%) ICUs. Conclusion: One-third of intubated and ventilated patients received additional secretion clearance techniques. Mucus plugging events were infrequent with these additional secretion clearance approaches. Prospective studies must examine additional secretion clearance practices, prevalence of mucus plugging episodes and impact on patient outcomes.
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