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Dual Treatment Helps Wean Patients From Ventilators
Date:1/11/2008

'Wake up-and-breathe' protocol appears to improve results, study says

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Periodically stopping sedatives and allowing for spontaneous breathing -- the so-called "wake up-and-breathe" protocol -- improves results for patients on mechanical ventilators in intensive care units, a new study finds.

This practice helps wean patients from ventilators and should become common practice, the study authors said.

"Our results show that a paired sedation and ventilator weaning protocol resulted in patients spending more time off mechanical ventilation, less time in coma, and less time in intensive care and the hospital, and the protocol improved one-year survival compared with usual care," said lead researcher Dr. Timothy Girard, an instructor in medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

About one-third of patients in intensive care are mechanically ventilated, in which a machine generates a controlled flow of air to the patient's respiratory system. Ventilation is often accompanied by large doses of sedatives. But the use of ventilators is associated with significant adverse effects, such as infection, collapsed lungs and lung damage. The sedatives can also produce unwanted side effects, including sleeping for days.

To try to improve outcomes, various weaning programs have been tried, but there has so far been little evidence that they actually improve results, according to background information for the study.

To test its hypothesis, Girard's team assigned 336 patients to either a daily wake up-and-breathe program -- breathing on one's own and stopping sedatives for a short period of time -- or standard care.

Patients in the wake up-and-breathe group were able to breathe without assistance for three days more than patients in the standard care group over the 28 days of the trial, the researchers found.

Also, patients in the wake up-and-breat
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