Background Optimal turning of critically ill patients is not well established. Kinetic therapy (systematic mechanical rotation of patients with 40° turns) may improve pulmonary function more than the improvement in function achieved via the standard of care (turning patients every 2 hours).

Objective To determine (1) if patients receiving mechanical ventilation who tolerate kinetic therapy have better pulmonary function than do patients treated with standard turning and (2) the cost-effectiveness of kinetic therapy.

Methods A prospective, randomized, multicenter study including 234 medical, surgical, and trauma patients (137 control patients, 97 patients receiving kinetic therapy).

Results Kinetic therapy significantly decreased the occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia and lobar atelectasis. The risk of pneumonia developing was lower (P = .002) in patients receiving kinetic therapy than in the control patients. The risk of lobar atelectasis developing was decreased (P = .02) for the patients receiving kinetic therapy. Lengths of stay in the intensive care unit and in the hospital did not differ between the groups. Charges for intensive care were less in the kinetic therapy group ($81 700) than in the control group ($84 958), but not significantly less. Twenty-one patients did not tolerate kinetic therapy and were not included in the analysis.

Conclusion Kinetic therapy helps prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia and lobar atelectasis in critically ill patients. Costs to rent the bed may be offset by the potential cost reduction associated with kinetic therapy.

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