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As needed in line suction catheter changes were as safe as and less expensive than daily scheduled catheter changes during mechanical ventilation

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Question How safe are, and what are the costs of, daily scheduled changes (v as needed changes) on in line suction catheters for patients who receive mechanical ventilation?


Randomised controlled trial.


A university teaching hospital in St Louis, Missouri, USA.


521 patients (mean age 58 y, 54% men, 66% white) who were >18 years old and required mechanical ventilation for >12 hours while in the intensive care unit (ICU). Exclusion criteria were mechanical ventilation in another hospital, heart or lung transplantation, or massive haemoptysis.


263 patients were allocated to receive changes of in line suction catheters every 24 hours. 258 patients were allocated to receive non-scheduled changes of suction catheters indicated by mechanical failure of the device or visible soiling of the catheter. Routine nursing and respiratory treatment suctioning practices were done for all patients. Standard …

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  • Source of funding: BJC Innovations in Healthcare Program.

  • For article reprint: Dr M H Kollef, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, Washington University School of Medicine, Box 8052, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St Louis, MO 63110, USA. Fax +1 314 362 1334.