A protocol-driven approach to early extubation after heart surgery

Zachary W. Fitch, Orlando Debesa, Rika Ohkuma, Damon Duquaine, Jochen Steppan, Eric B. Schneider, Glenn J.R. Whitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective We assessed the effectiveness of standardized protocols in decreasing postoperative mechanical ventilation time to <6 hours. Methods In 2061 patients undergoing coronary bypass, the proportion extubated in <6 hours was calculated for 3 sequential time periods. During period 1 patients were weaned per baseline practices; during period 2, per a protocol developed by a multidisciplinary committee; and during period 3, as in period 2 but with paralytic reversal and extubation performed at lower body temperatures and an extubation reminder sheet prominently displayed. We used a χ2 test to examine differences in ventilation times among the 3 time periods and logistic regression modeling to control for independent risk factors for prolonged ventilation. As measures of patient safety, we examined rates of reintubation and rates of patient shivering following paralytic reversal. Results Twelve percent of patients were extubated in <6 hours during period 1, 24% during period 2 (P <.01), and 38% during period 3 (P <.01 compared with both periods 1 and 2). After controlling for 12 risk factors, patients were more likely to be extubated in <6 hours during period 2 (odds ratio, 2.39; 95% confidence interval, 1.84-3.10) and period 3 (odds ratio, 5.05; 95% confidence interval, 3.65-6.99) than during period 1. There was no difference in reintubation rates across periods, and the rate of patient shivering did not increase with paralytic reversal at lower body temperature. Conclusions The standardized protocols outlined in this article dramatically improved early extubation performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1344-1350
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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