Unplanned extubation can be a significant event that places the patient at risk for adverse events. Our goal was to reduce unplanned extubations to <1 unplanned extubation per 100 patient-intubated days.
All unplanned extubations in the NICU beginning in October 2009 were audited. Data collected included time of day, patient weight, and patient care activity at the time of the event. Bundles of potentially better practices were implemented in sequential Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles. Rates of unplanned extubation (number per patient-intubated day) for each month were analyzed by using control charts, and causes of unplanned extubation were analyzed by using Pareto charts.
We found a significant decrease in the unplanned extubation rate after implementation of the first bundle of potentially better practices in May 2010 (2.38 to 0.41 per 100 patient-intubated days). Several more Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles were conducted to sustain this improvement. A persistent reduction in the unplanned extubation rate (0.58 per 100 patient-intubated days) began in February 2013. Causes included dislodgement during care and procedures and variation in the fixation of the endotracheal tube. The majority of events occurred in very low birth weight infants during the daytime shift.
Unplanned extubations in the NICU can be reduced by education of staff and by implementing standard practices of care. Sustainability of any practice change to improve quality is critically dependent on culture change within the NICU. We suggest that the benchmark for unplanned extubation should be a rate <1 per 100 patient-intubated days.