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1.  An antimicrobial stewardship program improves antimicrobial treatment by culture site and the quality of antimicrobial prescribing in critically ill patients 
Critical Care  2012;16(6):R216.
Introduction
Increasing antimicrobial costs, reduced development of novel antimicrobials, and growing antimicrobial resistance necessitate judicious use of available agents. Antimicrobial stewardship programs (ASPs) may improve antimicrobial use in intensive care units (ICUs). Our objective was to determine whether the introduction of an ASP in an ICU altered the decision to treat cultures from sterile sites compared with nonsterile sites (which may represent colonization or contamination). We also sought to determine whether ASP education improved documentation of antimicrobial use, including an explicit statement of antimicrobial regimen, indication, duration, and de-escalation.
Methods
We retrospectively analyzed consecutive patients with positive bacterial cultures admitted to a 16-bed medical-surgical ICU over 2-month periods before and after ASP introduction (April through May 2008 and 2009, respectively). We evaluated the antimicrobial treatment of positive sterile- versus nonsterile-site cultures, specified a priori. We reviewed patient charts for clinician documentation of three specific details regarding antimicrobials: an explicit statement of antimicrobial regimen/indication, duration, and de-escalation. We also analyzed cost and defined daily doses (DDDs) (a World Health Organization (WHO) standardized metric of use) before and after ASP.
Results
Patient demographic data between the pre-ASP (n = 139) and post-ASP (n = 130) periods were similar. No difference was found in the percentage of positive cultures from sterile sites between the pre-ASP period and post-ASP period (44.9% versus 40.2%; P = 0.401). A significant increase was noted in the treatment of sterile-site cultures after ASP (64% versus 83%; P = 0.01) and a reduction in the treatment of nonsterile-site cultures (71% versus 46%; P = 0.0002). These differences were statistically significant when treatment decisions were analyzed both at an individual patient level and at an individual culture level. Increased explicit antimicrobial regimen documentation was observed after ASP (26% versus 71%; P < 0.0001). Also observed were increases in formally documented stop dates (53% versus 71%; P < 0.0001), regimen de-escalation (15% versus 23%; P = 0.026), and an overall reduction in cost and mean DDDs after ASP implementation.
Conclusions
Introduction of an ASP in the ICU was associated with improved microbiologically targeted therapy based on sterile or nonsterile cultures and improved documentation of antimicrobial use in the medical record.
doi:10.1186/cc11854
PMCID: PMC3672592  PMID: 23127353
2.  A knowledge translation collaborative to improve the use of therapeutic hypothermia in post-cardiac arrest patients: protocol for a stepped wedge randomized trial 
Background
Advances in resuscitation science have dramatically improved survival rates following cardiac arrest. However, about 60% of adults that regain spontaneous circulation die before leaving the hospital. Recently it has been shown that inducing hypothermia in cardiac arrest survivors immediately following their arrival in hospital can dramatically improve both overall survival and neurological outcomes. Despite the strong evidence for its efficacy and the apparent simplicity of this intervention, recent surveys show that therapeutic hypothermia is delivered inconsistently, incompletely, and often with delay.
Methods and design
This study will evaluate a multi-faceted knowledge translation strategy designed to increase the utilization rate of induced hypothermia in survivors of cardiac arrest across a network of 37 hospitals in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. The study is designed as a stepped wedge randomized trial lasting two years. Individual hospitals will be randomly assigned to four different wedges that will receive the active knowledge translation strategy according to a sequential rollout over a number of time periods. By the end of the study, all hospitals will have received the intervention. The primary aim is to measure the effectiveness of a multifaceted knowledge translation plan involving education, reminders, and audit-feedback for improving the use of induced hypothermia in survivors of cardiac arrest presenting to the emergency department. The primary outcome is the proportion of eligible OHCA patients that are cooled to a body temperature of 32 to 34°C within six hours of arrival in the hospital. Secondary outcomes will include process of care measures and clinical outcomes.
Discussion
Inducing hypothermia in cardiac arrest survivors immediately following their arrival to hospital has been shown to dramatically improve both overall survival and neurological outcomes. However, this lifesaving treatment is frequently not applied in practice. If this trial is positive, our results will have broad implications by showing that a knowledge translation strategy shared across a collaborative network of hospitals can increase the number of patients that receive this lifesaving intervention in a timely manner.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Trial Identifier: NCT00683683
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-4
PMCID: PMC3031244  PMID: 21235799
3.  A retrospective cohort pilot study to evaluate a triage tool for use in a pandemic 
Critical Care  2009;13(5):R170.
Introduction
The objective of this pilot study was to assess the usability of the draft Ontario triage protocol, to estimate its potential impact on patient outcomes, and ability to increase resource availability based on a retrospective cohort of critically ill patients cared for during a non-pandemic period.
Methods
Triage officers applied the protocol prospectively to 2 retrospective cohorts of patients admitted to 2 academic medical/surgical ICUs during an 8 week period of peak occupancy. Each patient was assigned a treatment priority (red -- 'highest', yellow -- 'intermediate', green -- 'discharge to ward', or blue/black -- 'expectant') by the triage officers at 3 separate time points (at the time of admission to the ICU, 48, and 120 hours post admission).
Results
Overall, triage officers were either confident or very confident in 68.4% of their scores; arbitration was required in 54.9% of cases. Application of the triage protocol would potentially decrease the number of required ventilator days by 49.3% (568 days) and decrease the total ICU days by 52.6% (895 days). On the triage protocol at ICU admission the survival rate in the red (93.7%) and yellow (62.5%) categories were significantly higher then that of the blue category (24.6%) with associated P values of < 0.0001 and 0.0003 respectively. Further, the survival rate of the red group was significantly higher than the overall survival rate of 70.9% observed in the cohort (P < 0.0001). At 48 and 120 hours, survival rates in the blue group increased but remained lower then the red or yellow groups.
Conclusions
Refinement of the triage protocol and implementation is required prior to future study, including improved training of triage officers, and protocol modification to minimize the exclusion from critical care of patients who may in fact benefit. However, our results suggest that the triage protocol can help to direct resources to patients who are most likely to benefit, and help to decrease the demands on critical care resources, thereby making available more resources to treat other critically ill patients.
doi:10.1186/cc8146
PMCID: PMC2784402  PMID: 19874595
4.  Development of a triage protocol for critical care during an influenza pandemic 
Background
The recent outbreaks of avian influenza (H5N1) have placed a renewed emphasis on preparing for an influenza pandemic in humans. Of particular concern in this planning is the allocation of resources, such as ventilators and antiviral medications, which will likely become scarce during a pandemic.
Methods
We applied a collaborative process using best evidence, expert panels, stakeholder consultations and ethical principles to develop a triage protocol for prioritizing access to critical care resources, including mechanical ventilation, during a pandemic.
Results
The triage protocol uses the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score and has 4 main components: inclusion criteria, exclusion criteria, minimum qualifications for survival and a prioritization tool.
Interpretation
This protocol is intended to provide guidance for making triage decisions during the initial days to weeks of an influenza pandemic if the critical care system becomes overwhelmed. Although we designed this protocol for use during an influenza pandemic, the triage protocol would apply to patients both with and without influenza, since all patients must share a single pool of critical care resources.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.060911
PMCID: PMC1635763  PMID: 17116904
5.  Outcomes of interfacility critical care adult patient transport: a systematic review 
Critical Care  2005;10(1):R6.
Introduction
We aimed to determine the adverse events and important prognostic factors associated with interfacility transport of intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients.
Methods
We performed a systematic review of MEDLINE, CENTRAL, EMBASE, CINAHL, HEALTHSTAR, and Web of Science (from inception until 10 January 2005) for all clinical studies describing the incidence and predictors of adverse events in intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients undergoing interfacility transport. The bibliographies of selected articles were also examined.
Results
Five studies (245 patients) met the inclusion criteria. All were case-series and two were prospective in design. Due to the paucity of studies and significant heterogeneity in study population, outcome events, and results, we synthesized data in a qualitative manner. Pre-transport severity of illness was reported in only one study. The most common indication for transport was a need for investigations and/or specialist care (three studies, 220 patients). Transport modalities included air (fixed or rotor wing; 66% of patients) and ground (31%) ambulance, and commercial aircraft (3%). Transport teams included a physician in three studies (220 patients). Death during transfer was rare (n = 1). No other adverse events or significant therapeutic interventions during transport were reported. One study reported a 19% (28/145) incidence of respiratory alkalosis on arrival and another study documented a 30% overall intensive care unit mortality, while no adverse events or outcomes were reported after arrival in the three other studies.
Conclusion
Insufficient data exist to draw firm conclusions regarding the mortality, morbidity, or risk factors associated with the interfacility transport of intubated and mechanically ventilated adult patients. Further study is required to define the risks and benefits of interfacility transfer in this patient population. Such information is important for the planning and allocation of resources related to transporting critically ill adults.
doi:10.1186/cc3924
PMCID: PMC1550794  PMID: 16356212
6.  Prospective evaluation of an internet-linked handheld computer critical care knowledge access system 
Critical Care  2004;8(6):R414-R421.
Introduction
Critical care physicians may benefit from immediate access to medical reference material. We evaluated the feasibility and potential benefits of a handheld computer based knowledge access system linking a central academic intensive care unit (ICU) to multiple community-based ICUs.
Methods
Four community hospital ICUs with 17 physicians participated in this prospective interventional study. Following training in the use of an internet-linked, updateable handheld computer knowledge access system, the physicians used the handheld devices in their clinical environment for a 12-month intervention period. Feasibility of the system was evaluated by tracking use of the handheld computer and by conducting surveys and focus group discussions. Before and after the intervention period, participants underwent simulated patient care scenarios designed to evaluate the information sources they accessed, as well as the speed and quality of their decision making. Participants generated admission orders during each scenario, which were scored by blinded evaluators.
Results
Ten physicians (59%) used the system regularly, predominantly for nonmedical applications (median 32.8/month, interquartile range [IQR] 28.3–126.8), with medical software accessed less often (median 9/month, IQR 3.7–13.7). Eight out of 13 physicians (62%) who completed the final scenarios chose to use the handheld computer for information access. The median time to access information on the handheld handheld computer was 19 s (IQR 15–40 s). This group exhibited a significant improvement in admission order score as compared with those who used other resources (P = 0.018). Benefits and barriers to use of this technology were identified.
Conclusion
An updateable handheld computer system is feasible as a means of point-of-care access to medical reference material and may improve clinical decision making. However, during the study, acceptance of the system was variable. Improved training and new technology may overcome some of the barriers we identified.
doi:10.1186/cc2967
PMCID: PMC1065064  PMID: 15566586
clinical; computer; critical care; decision support systems; handheld; internet; point-of-care systems; practice guidelines; simulation
7.  Handheld Computing in Medicine 
Handheld computers have become a valuable and popular tool in various fields of medicine. A systematic review of articles was undertaken to summarize the current literature regarding the use of handheld devices in medicine. A variety of articles were identified, and relevant information for various medical fields was summarized. The literature search covered general information about handheld devices, the use of these devices to access medical literature, electronic pharmacopoeias, patient tracking, medical education, research, business management, e-prescribing, patient confidentiality, and costs as well as specialty-specific uses for personal digital assistants (PDAs).
The authors concluded that only a small number of articles provide evidence-based information about the use of PDAs in medicine. The majority of articles provide descriptive information, which is nevertheless of value. This article aims to increase the awareness among physicians about the potential roles for handheld computers in medicine and to encourage the further evaluation of their use.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M1180
PMCID: PMC150367  PMID: 12595403
8.  Pro/con clinical debate: Are steroids useful in the management of patients with septic shock? 
Critical Care  2002;6(2):113-116.
Decision-making in the intensive care unit is often very difficult. Although we are encouraged to make evidence-based decisions, this may be difficult for a number of reasons. To begin with, evidence may not exist to answer the clinical question. Second, when there is evidence it may not be applicable to the patient in question or the clinician may be reluctant to apply it to the patient based on a number of secondary issues such as costs, premorbid condition or possible complications. Finally, emotions are often highly charged when caring for patients that have a significant chance of death, and care-givers as well as families are frequently prepared to take chances on a therapy whose benefit is not entirely clear. Steroid use in septic shock is an example of a therapy that makes some sense but has conflicting support in the literature. In this issue of Critical Care Forum, the two sides of this often heated debate are brought to the forefront in an interesting format.
doi:10.1186/cc1467
PMCID: PMC137290  PMID: 11983034
glucocorticoids; sepsis; shock

Results 1-8 (8)