Clinical question: Does the use of a standardized suite of post-operative pulmonary care guidelines decrease the incidence of adverse pulmonary outcomes in non-ventilated patients?
Background: Post-operative pulmonary complications are common and account for high costs and increased length of stay. Best practice guidelines for pulmonary care in general for patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery are scarce, compared to strategies to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP).
Study design: Observational study.
Setting: Boston University Medical Center.
Synopsis: The I COUGH program emphasized Incentive spirometry, Coughing and deep breathing, Oral care, Understanding (patient and family education), Getting out of bed at least three times daily, and Head-of-bed elevation.
I COUGH was implemented for one year for all general surgery and vascular surgery patients, and results were compared with the year prior using National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) data. The program reduced the incidence of post-operative pneumonia to 1.6% from 2.6% and the incidence of unplanned intubations to 1.2% from 2.0%. The results did show a trend but did not achieve statistical significance.
Bottom line: Post-operative implementation of I COUGH through consistent education of staff, patients, and family might reduce post-operative pneumonia and unplanned intubations.
Citation: Cassidy MR, Rosenkranz P, McCabe K, Rosen JE, McAneny D. I COUGH: reducing postoperative pulmonary complications with a multidisciplinary patient care program. JAMA Surg. 2013;148:740-745.