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Clin Geriatr Med. 2000 Nov;16(4):735-56.

Chronic ventilator dependence in elderly patients.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63104, USA.


Long-term ventilator dependence is the need for mechanical ventilation for more than 6 h/d for more than 21 days. Long-term ventilator dependence complicates 9% to 20% of the episodes of mechanical ventilation treated in the intensive care units of acute care hospitals; it is associated with an average mortality rate of 40%. Unlike acute respiratory failure, the risk for which does not increase with age, long-term ventilator dependence falls disproportionately to patients aged 70 years or older. During the past 2 decades, a profusion of care sites for patients with long-term ventilator dependence has evolved, largely as the product of the prospective payment system for health services introduced by the Health Care Financing Administration in 1983. The outcome of long-term ventilator dependence in elderly patients across this health care continuum is addressed.

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