Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) increases morbidity, mortality, and health care costs.


To reduce the VAP rate in the pediatric/cardiac intensive care unit to fewer than 2 events per 1000 ventilator days within 2 years and to sustain a rate near 0 for the next 5 years.


An evidence-based VAP prevention bundle was developed and implemented by an interprofessional team using the Six Sigma Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control methodology. The mixed unit’s 5-element VAP prevention bundle consisted of age-appropriate oral care, proper airway suction technique, maintenance of safe endotracheal-tube cuff pressures, aspiration precautions, and head-of-bed elevation. Knowledge and practice were reinforced through multidisciplinary education and one-on-one teaching. Practice compliance was monitored through regular, unannounced bedside audits linked to just-in-time teaching.


Within 2 years, the annual VAP rate fell from 7.86 to 1.16 events per 1000 ventilator days; VAP bundle-element compliance ranged from 86% to 99%. There were no VAP events during a 10-quarter period in 2012 through 2014.


Development, implementation, and revision of a VAP prevention strategy using the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control methodology was associated with marked, sustained reduction in VAP rates, notably during the unit’s expansion from 16 to 24 beds, the opening of a pediatric cardiothoracic unit, and the hiring of more than 80 new nurses. After 7 years, the VAP rate continues to be low at 0.86 for 2016 and 0 through June 2017.

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