Plan to have no unplanned: A collaborative, hospital-based quality-improvement project to reduce the rate of unplanned extubations in the pediatric ICU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Although under-reported and understudied, unplanned extubations carry a significant risk of patient harm and even death. They are an important yardstick of quality control of care of intubated patients in the ICU. A unit-based risk assessment and multidisciplinary approach is required to decrease the incidence of unplanned extubations. METHODS: As part of a quality improvement initiative of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, all planned and unplanned extubations in a multidisciplinary 20-bed pediatric ICU were evaluated over a 12-month period (January to December 2010). At the end of 6 months, an interim analysis was performed, and high-risk patient groups and patient care factors were identified. These factors were targeted in the second phase of the project. RESULTS: Over this period, there were a total of 267 extubations, of which 231 (87%) were planned extubations and 36 (13%) were unplanned. A patient care policy targeting the risk factors was instituted, along with extensive nursing and other personnel education in the second phase. As a result of this intervention, the unplanned extubation rate in the pediatric ICU decreased from 3.55 to 2.59/100 intubation days. All subjects who had an unplanned extubation during nursing procedures or transport required re-intubation, whereas none of the unplanned extubations during ventilator weaning required re-intubation. CONCLUSIONS: A targeted approach based on unit-specific risk factors is most effective in quality-improvement projects. A specific policy for sedation and weaning can be very helpful in managing intubated patients and preventing unintended harm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1112
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015



  • Endotracheal extubation
  • Intensive care unit
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Medical errors
  • Patient safety
  • Pediatric
  • Quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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