- Journal club critique
- Open Access
Protocol-directed care in the ICU: making a future generation of intensivists less knowledgeable?
© BioMed Central Ltd 2012
- Published: 4 April 2012
Prasad M, Holmboe ES, Lipner RS, Hess BJ, Christie JD, Bellamy SL, Rubenfeld GD, Kahn JM. Clinical Protocols and Trainee Knowledge About Mechanical Ventilation. JAMA. 2011; 306(9):935-941. PubMed PMID: 21900133 This is available on http://www.pubmed.gov
Clinical protocols are associated with improved patient outcomes; however, they may negatively affect medical education by removing trainees from clinical decision making.
Objective: To study the relationship between critical care training with mechanical ventilation protocols and subsequent knowledge about ventilator management.
Design: A retrospective cohort equivalence study linking a national survey of mechanical ventilation protocol availability with knowledge about mechanical ventilation. Exposure to protocols was defined as high intensity if an intensive care unit had 2 or more protocols for at least 3 years and as low intensity if 0 or 1 protocol.
Setting: Accredited US pulmonary and critical care fellowship programs.
Subjects: First-time examinees of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Critical Care Medicine Certification Examination in 2008 and 2009.
Outcomes: Knowledge, measured by performance on examination questions specific to mechanical ventilation management, calculated as a mechanical ventilation score using item response theory. The score is standardized to a mean (SD) of 500 (100), and a clinically important difference is defined as 25. Variables included in adjusted analyses were birth country, residency training country, and overall first-attempt score on the ABIM Internal Medicine Certification Examination.
The 90 of 129 programs (70%) responded to the survey. Seventy seven programs (86%) had protocols for ventilation liberation, 66 (73%) for sedation management, and 54 (60%) for lung-protective ventilation at the time of the survey. Eighty eight (98%) of these programs had trainees who completed the ABIM Critical Care Medicine Certification Examination, totaling 553 examinees. Of these 88 programs, 27 (31%) had 0 protocols, 19 (22%) had 1 protocol, 24 (27%) had 2 protocols, and 18 (20%) had 3 protocols for at least 3 years. 42 programs (48%) were classified as high intensity and 46 (52%) as low intensity, with 304 trainees (55%) and 249 trainees (45%), respectively. In bi-variable analysis, no difference in mean scores was observed in high-intensity (497; 95% CI, 486-507) vs low-intensity programs (497; 95% CI, 485-509). Mean difference was 0 (95% CI, -16 to 16), with a positive value indicating a higher score in the high-intensity group. In multivariable analyses, no association of training was observed in a high-intensity program with mechanical ventilation score (adjusted mean difference, -5.36; 95% CI, -20.7 to 10.0).
Among first-time ABIM Critical Care Medicine Certification Examination examinees, training in a high-intensity ventilator protocol environment compared with a low-intensity environment was not associated with worse performance on examination questions about mechanical ventilation management.
While protocol-directed care remains a source of debate, this study shows that training in a high-intensity mechanical ventilation protocol environment was not associated with worse performance on certification exam mechanical ventilation questions. Further studies are needed to examine whether protocol-directed care or other interventions targeted for patient safety affect competency of trainees.
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