Organizational processes affect the duration of mechanical ventilation in adult and pediatric intensive care units, but surprisingly little is known about role responsibilities for mechanical ventilation and weaning and related contextual factors that may influence timely liberation from mechanical ventilation.
To determine the professional group and seniority of clinicians responsible for key decisions regarding ventilation and weaning; use of ventilation protocols and automated closed loop systems; and provision of education on mechanical ventilation.
Mailed survey to nurse managers of pediatric intensive care units in the United Kingdom.
Response rate was 61%. In most units, nurse managers reported that physicians and nurses usually collaborated in making decisions about initializing (63%) and adjusting (94%) ventilator settings and for determining weaning readiness (88%), weaning method (59%), extubation readiness (82%), and weaning failure (100%). Protocols for mechanical ventilation were available in 35% of units, some specific to weaning (18%) and others for noninvasive ventilation (35%). Automated closed loop systems were used in 18% of units. Competency training was required before nurses could adjust ventilator settings in 35% of responding units; in the remaining units, settings were adjusted by nurses who had no specific competency training.
Key decisions were mainly collaborative, but nurses were limited in their ability to adjust ventilator settings independently. This limitation may be due to a lack of standardized competency programs and the infrequent use of non–physician-led weaning protocols and automated systems. These findings indicate some ways of improving processes to avoid delays in ventilator weaning.