Decreasing Unplanned Extubations in the Neonatal ICU

Document Type


Publication Date



Pediatrics, Nursing

Journal Title

Respiratory care

MeSH Headings

Airway Extubation; Critical Illness; Humans; Infant, Newborn; Intensive Care Units, Neonatal; Intubation, Intratracheal; Quality Improvement


BACKGROUND: Unplanned extubation (UE) is a preventable adverse event and may lead to additional complications such as cardiovascular resuscitation or respiratory compromise in a critically ill neonate during an emergent re-intubation. A quality improvement project to reduce unplanned endotracheal tube dislodgement would reduce these morbidities. We aimed to reduce UEs in the NICU to 1 UE/100 ventilator days by October 2018. METHODS: As of the baseline period (March 2017 to November 2017), our level 4 NICU had 950 annual admissions and a baseline rate of 9.9 UEs/100 ventilator days. We formed an inter-professional task force consisting of a neonatologist, 2 respiratory therapists, and the NICU nurse educator. We tracked all of our UE events and required the staff involved to file an electronic safety report. PDSA (plan-do-study-act) cycles consisted of staff attitude survey, development of a data collection tool, protocol of 2 staff members for all transfers of intubated patients, staff education around securement device, and daily retaping of endotracheal tubes to securement device. UE events and ventilator days were extracted from a respiratory database and the electornic medical record. RESULTS: A special cause variation was noted via control chart rules for the mean UE rate from a baseline of 9.9 UEs/100 ventilator days in the baseline period compared to a post-intervention mean of 1.6 UEs/100 ventilator days for the period of August 2018 to March 2019). During the intervention phase of the project (December 2017 to July 2018), a special cause variation was noted with a UE rate of 5/100 ventilator days. CONCLUSIONS: Development of a quality improvement project by a multidisciplinary taskforce, along with several PDSA cycles including education and staff awareness, reduced the UE rate by 84% in a level 4 NICU. Ongoing surveillance, education, and review of UE cases will be key to maintaining UE events at a goal of 1 UE/100 ventilator days.

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