Aspiration Prevention Protocol: Decreasing Postoperative Pneumonia in Heart Surgery Patients

Starks, Bobbie; Harbert, Christy
October 2011
Critical Care Nurse;Oct2011, Vol. 31 Issue 5, p38
Academic Journal
BACKGROUND: Postoperative pneumonia contributes to morbidity and mortality in patients who have open heart surgery. OBJECTIVES: To determine if measures to reduce aspiration in patients after cardiothoracic surgery would decrease the occurrence of postoperative pneumonia. METHODS: All patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery from April 2008 through October 2008 were prospectively enrolled in the study. An aspiration prevention protocol was developed and implemented in a 24-bed intensive care unit. The protocol incorporated a bedside swallowing evaluation by a speech therapist and progressive oral intake. RESULTS: In the 6 months before development and implementation of the protocol, postoperative pneumonia developed in 11% of patients. After implementation of the protocol, no patients had postoperative pneumonia (P < .01). CONCLUSIONS: Implementing an aspiration prevention protocol was effective in reducing the occurrence of postoperative pneumonia in patients who had cardiothoracic surgery.


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