INTRODUCTION: Community acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a common reason for admission to an intensive care unit for intubation and mechanical ventilation, and results in high morbidity and mortality. The primary aim of the study was to investigate availability and provision of respiratory physiotherapy, outside of normal business hours, for intubated and mechanically ventilated adults with CAP in Australian hospitals.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional, mixed methods online survey was conducted. Participants were senior intensive care unit physiotherapists from 88 public and private hospitals. Main outcome measures included presence and nature of an after-hours physiotherapy service and factors perceived to influence the need for after-hours respiratory physiotherapy intervention, when the service was available, for intubated adult patients with CAP. Data were also collected regarding respiratory intervention provided after-hours by other ICU professionals.
RESULTS: Response rate was 72% (n=75). An after-hours physiotherapy service was provided by n=31 (46%) hospitals and onsite after-hours physiotherapy presence was limited (22%), with a combination of onsite and on-call service reported by 19%. Treatment response (83%) was the most frequent factor for referring patients with CAP for after-hours physiotherapy intervention by the treating day-time physiotherapist. Nurses performing respiratory intervention (77%) was significantly associated with no available after-hours physiotherapy service (p=0.04).
DISCUSSION: Physiotherapy after-hours service in Australia is limited, therefore it is common for intubated patients with CAP not to receive any respiratory physiotherapy intervention outside of normal business hours. In the absence of an after-hours physiotherapist, nurses were most likely to perform after-hours respiratory intervention to intubated patients with CAP.
CONCLUSION: Further research is required to determine whether the frequency of respiratory physiotherapy intervention, including after-hours provision of treatment, influences outcomes for ICU patients intubated with pneumonia.