Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation (PMV) is associated with a higher cost of care and increased morbidity and mortality. Patients requiring PMV are referred mostly to Long-Term Acute Care (LTAC) facilities.


To determine if protocol-driven weaning from mechanical ventilator by Respiratory Therapist (RT) would result in quicker weaning from mechanical ventilation, cost-effectiveness, and decreased mortality.


A retrospective case-control study was conducted that utilized protocol-driven ventilator weaning by respiratory therapist (RT) as a part of the Respiratory Disease Certification Program (RDCP).


51 patients on mechanical ventilation before initiation of protocol-based ventilator weaning formed the control group. 111 patients on mechanical ventilation after implementation of the protocol formed the study group. Time to wean from the mechanical ventilation before the implementation of protocol-driven weaning by RT was 16.76 +/- 18.91 days, while that after the implementation of protocol was 7.67 +/- 6.58 days (p < 0.0001). Mortality proportion in patients after implementation of protocol-based ventilator weaning was 0.21 as compared to 0.37 in the control group (p=0.0153). The daily cost of patient care for the LTAC while on mechanical ventilation was $2200/day per patient while it was $ 1400/day per patient while not on mechanical ventilation leading to significant cost savings.


Protocol-driven liberation from mechanical ventilation in LTAC by RT can significantly decrease the duration of a mechanical ventilator, leading to decreased mortality and cost savings.

Keywords: Prolonged mechanical ventilation, Long term acute care, Ventilator weaning, Difficult weaning, Respiratory therapist in weaning, Liberation from mechanical ventilation.
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