Regions Hospital program helps patients breathe on their own sooner
after heart surgery
A program at Regions Hospital to remove patients from a ventilator within six hours after heart surgery allows patients to leave the intensive care unit one day sooner and lowers medical costs by an average of $2,000 per patient.
Started in 2011, the early extubation program allows for the safe removal of ventilator breathing support either prior to leaving the operating room or within six hours after surgery. Since Regions implemented this program, the number of cardiac surgery patients who were able to breathe on their own sooner after surgery has increased to 87 percent, which is nearly double the national rate. Results show that there is no increase in the rate of complications and that patients recover enough to be able to leave the intensive care unit one day sooner.
Reduces need for narcotic painkillers
Standard medical practice in the U.S. is for patients to be sedated and have a breathing tube in place the first night following heart surgery. Research shows that improvements in anesthesia and other system changes can reduce the need for extended ventilation for most patients. One element of the program includes the use of so-called fast-track anesthesia, which has a lower dose of narcotic pain relievers. This allows patients to spend less time under anesthesia which can depress the respiratory system.
“The benefits to patients are clear: they are up and walking sooner, they can communicate with their care givers and family, they are more alert and they have a lower risk of developing ventilator associated pneumonia,” said Tim Kroshus, MD, HealthPartners cardiac surgeon at Regions Hospital. “In short, this approach results in improved care, a better patient experience and lower medical costs.”
For more information, read a summary of the early extubation program on healthpartners.com .
Regions Hospital is a Level I Trauma Center for adults and for children.. Regions is part of the HealthPartners (www.healthpartners.com ) family of health care companies that serves 1.4 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide and 500,000 patients in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Follow Regions Hospital at twitter.com/RegionsHospital  and facebook.com/regionshospital .