Medical emergency team and non-invasive ventilation outside ICU for acute respiratory failure

Luca Cabrini, Cristina Idone, Sergio Colombo, Giacomo Monti, Pier Carlo Bergonzi, Giovanni Landoni, Davide Salaris, Carlo Leggieri, Giorgio Torri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To report data about "real-life" treatments with non-invasive ventilation for acute respiratory failure (ARF), managed outside intensive care units by anaesthesiologists acting as a medical emergency team. Design: Observational study; prospectively collected data over a 6-month period in a single centre. Setting: Non-intensive wards in a University Hospital with 1,100 beds. Patients: Consecutive patients with ARF for whom a ventilatory support was indicated but tracheal intubation was not appropriated or immediately needed. Interventions: None. Measurements and results: Patient's characteristics, safety data, short-term outcome and organizational aspects of 129 consecutive treatments were collected. The overall success rate was 77.5%, while 10.1% were intubated and 12.4% died (all of them were "do not attempt resuscitation" patients). The incidence of treatment failure varied greatly among different diseases. Complications were limited to nasal decubitus (5%), failure to accomplish the prescribed ventilatory program (12%), malfunction of the ventilator (2%) and excessive air leaks from face mask (2%) with no consequences for patients. Three patients became intolerant to NIV. The work-load for the MET was high but sustainable: on average NIV was applied to a new case every 34 h and more than three patients were simultaneously treated. Conclusions: Under the supervision of a MET, in our institution NIV could be applied in a wide variety of settings, outside the ICU, with a high success rate and with few complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • Acute respiratory failure (ARF)
  • Cardiogenic pulmonary oedema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Medical emergency team
  • Non-invasive ventilation
  • Pneumonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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