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Int J Nurs Stud. 2009 May;46(5):617-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.10.009. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Non-invasive mechanical ventilation in Australian emergency departments: a prospective observational cohort study.

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Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, 155 College St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Data describing use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in the emergency department (ED) setting consist primarily of physician surveys. Our objective was to conduct a prospective study to document the characteristics of patients receiving NIV, interfaces, mode, and parameters used as well as NIV duration and decision-making responsibility.


We conducted a 2-month prospective observational study of adult patients who received NIV in 24 EDs. Patient characteristics, delivery methods, and decision-making responsibility were documented for each ED presentation.


Data were recorded on 245 patients; 185 patients received non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) and 60 received continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Acute cardiogenic pulmonary oedema (ACPO) (80/245, 33%) and exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (75/245, 31%) were the two most frequent indications for NIV. Compared to patients with respiratory failure from other aetiologies, those with ACPO were more likely to receive CPAP (28/80 [35%] versus 32/165 [19%] P=0.008). Initial NIV settings were selected by ED nurses for 118/245 (48%) patients, by ED physicians for 118/245 (48%) patients, and by ICU staff for 3/245 (1.5%) patients (not reported for 6 [2.5%] patients). The role of ED nurses in the selection of initial NIV settings was not influenced by ED location, patient type or triage category.


Acute exacerbations of CPO and COPD were the most common indications for NIV. Clinicians demonstrated a preference for NIPPV for all patient aetiologies except ACPO. Responsibility for NIV management was shared by ED nurses and physicians.

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