Other bulletins in this series include:

Breast Surgery

Monday, 18 September 2017

Evaluating the past to improve the future – A qualitative study of ICU patients’ experiences

Evaluating the past to improve the future – A qualitative study of ICU patients’ experiences
Dahle Olsen K et al
Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, Article in Press

Background:The recovery period for patients who have been in an intensive care unitis often prolonged and suboptimal. Anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are common psychological problems. Intensive care staff offer various types of intensive aftercare. Intensive care follow-up aftercare services are not standard clinical practice in Norway.
Objective:The overall aim of this study is to investigate how adult patients experience their intensive care stay their recovery period, and the usefulness of an information pamphlet.
Method:A qualitative, exploratory research with semi-structured interviews of 29 survivors after discharge from intensive care and three months after discharge from the hospital.
Results:Two main themes emerged: “Being on an unreal, strange journey” and “Balancing between who I was and who I am” Patients’ recollection of their intensive care stay differed greatly. Continuity of care and the nurse’s ability to see and value individual differences was highlighted. The information pamphlet helped intensive care survivors understand that what they went through was normal.
Conclusions:Continuity of care and an individual approach is crucial to meet patients’ uniqueness and different coping mechanisms. Intensive care survivors and their families must be included when information material and rehabilitation programs are designed and evaluated.

The early diagnosis and management of mixed delirium in a patient placed on ECMO and with difficult sedation: A case report

The early diagnosis and management of mixed delirium in a patient placed on ECMO and with difficult sedation: A case report
Acevedo-Nuevo, M et al
Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, Article in Press

Delirium represents a serious problem that impacts the physical and cognitive prognosis of patients admitted to intensive care units and requires prompt diagnosis and management. This article describes the case and progress of a patient placed on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation with difficult sedation criteria and an early diagnosis of mixed delirium. During the case report, we reflect on the pharmacological and non-pharmacological strategies employed to cope with delirium paying special attention to the non-use of physical restraint measures in order to preserve vital support devices (endotracheal tube or Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation cannula).

Intubation-associated pneumonia: An integrative review

Intubation-associated pneumonia: An integrative review
Sabrina Sousa, A et al
Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, Article in Press

Objective
This article aims to characterise intubation-associated pneumonia regarding its diagnosis, causes, risk factors, consequences and incidence.
Research methodology
Integrative literature review using database Pubmed and B-on and webpages of organisations dedicated to this area of study.
Setting
The research took place between May and July 2015. After selection of the articles, according to established criteria, their quality was assessed and 17 documents were included.
Results
Evidence has demonstrated that intubation associated pneumonia has a multifactorial aetiology and one of its main causes is micro-aspiration of gastric and oropharynx contents. Risk factors can be internal or external. The diagnostic criteria are based on clinical, radiological and microbiological data, established by several organisations, including the European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which are, however, still not accurate. In recent years, there has been a downward trend in the incidence in Europe. Nevertheless, it continues to have significant economic impact, as well as affecting health and human lives.
Conclusions
Several European countries are committed to addressing this phenomenon through infection control and microbial resistance programmes; however there is a much to be done in order to minimise its effects. The lack of consensus in the literature regarding diagnosis criteria, risk factors and incidence rates is a limitation of this study.

The Impact of Mortality on Total Costs Within the ICU

The Impact of Mortality on Total Costs Within the ICU

Kramer, A A et al
Critical Care Medicine:  September 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 9 - p 1457–1463

Objectives: The high cost of critical care has engendered research into identifying influential factors. However, existing studies have not considered patient vital status at ICU discharge. This study sought to determine the effect of mortality upon the total cost of an ICU stay. Design: Retrospective cohort study. 
Setting: Twenty-six ICUs at 13 hospitals in the United States. Patients: 58,344 admissions from January 1, 2012, to June 30, 2016, obtained from a commercial ICU database. Interventions: None. 
Measurements and Main Results: The median observed cost of a unit stay was $9,619 (mean = $16,353). A multivariable regression model was developed on the log of total costs for a unit stay, using severity of illness, unit admitting diagnosis, mortality in the unit, daily unit occupancy (occupying a bed at midnight), and length of mechanical ventilation. This model had an r2 of 0.67 and a median difference between observed and expected costs of $437. The first few days of care and the first day receiving mechanical ventilation had the largest effect on total costs. Patients dying before unit discharge had 12.4% greater costs than survivors (p < 0.01; 99% CI = 9.3–15.5%) after multivariable adjustment. This effect was most pronounced for patients with an extended ICU stay who were receiving mechanical ventilation. 
Conclusions: While the largest drivers of ICU costs at the patient level are day 1 room occupancy and day 1 mechanical ventilation, mortality before unit discharge is associated with substantially higher costs. The increase was most evident for patients with an extended ICU stay who were receiving mechanical ventilation. Studies evaluating costs among ICUs need to take mortality into account.

A Technique of Awake Bronchoscopic Endotracheal Intubation for Respiratory Failure in Patients With Right Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension

A Technique of Awake Bronchoscopic Endotracheal Intubation for Respiratory Failure in Patients With Right Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension
Johannes, J et al
Critical Care Medicine:  September 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 9 - p e980–e984

Objective: Patients with pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure have a high risk of clinical deterioration and death during or soon after endotracheal intubation. The effects of sedation, hypoxia, hypoventilation, and changes in intrathoracic pressure can lead to severe hemodynamic instability. In search for safer approach to endotracheal intubation in this cohort of patients, we evaluate the safety and feasibility of an alternative intubation technique. Data Sources: Retrospective data analysis. Study Selection: Two medical ICUs in large university hospitals in the United States. Data Extraction: We report a case series of nine nonconsecutive patients with compromised right heart function, pulmonary hypertension, and severe acute hypoxemic respiratory failure who underwent endotracheal intubation with a novel technique combining awake bronchoscopic intubation supported with nasally delivered noninvasive positive pressure ventilation or high-flow nasal cannula. Data Synthesis: All patients were intubated in the first attempt without major complications and eight patients (88%) were alive 24 hours after intubation. Systemic hypotension was the most frequent complication following the procedure. Conclusions: Awake bronchoscopic intubation supported with a noninvasive positive pressure delivery systems may be feasible alternative to standard direct laryngoscopy approach. Further studies are needed to better assess its safety and applicability.

Preventing Harm in the ICU—Building a Culture of Safety and Engaging Patients and Families

Preventing Harm in the ICU—Building a Culture of Safety and Engaging Patients and Families
Thornton, K C et al

Critical Care Medicine:  September 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 9 - p 1531–1537

Objective: Preventing harm remains a persistent challenge in the ICU despite evidence-based practices known to reduce the prevalence of adverse events. This review seeks to describe the critical role of safety culture and patient and family engagement in successful quality improvement initiatives in the ICU. We review the evidence supporting the impact of safety culture and provide practical guidance for those wishing to implement initiatives aimed at improving safety culture and more effectively integrate patients and families in such efforts. 
Data Sources: Literature review using PubMed including evaluation of key studies assessing large-scale quality improvement efforts in the ICU, impact of safety culture on patient outcomes, methodologies for quality improvement commonly used in healthcare, and patient and family engagement. Print and web-based resources from leading patient safety organizations were also searched. Study Selection: Our group completed a review of original studies, review articles, book chapters, and recommendations from leading patient safety organizations. 
Data Extraction: Our group determined by consensus which resources would best inform this review. 
Data Synthesis: A strong safety culture is associated with reduced adverse events, lower mortality rates, and lower costs. Quality improvement efforts have been shown to be more effective and sustainable when paired with a strong safety culture. Different methodologies exist for quality improvement in the ICU; a thoughtful approach to implementation that engages frontline providers and administrative leadership is essential for success. Efforts to substantively include patients and families in the processes of quality improvement work in the ICU should be expanded. Conclusions: Efforts to establish a culture of safety and meaningfully engage patients and families should form the foundation for all safety interventions in the ICU. This review describes an approach that integrates components of several proven quality improvement methodologies to enhance safety culture in the ICU and highlights opportunities to include patients and families.

Statin and Its Association With Delirium in the Medical ICU

Statin and Its Association With Delirium in the Medical ICU

Statin and Its Association With Delirium in the Medical ICU
Mather, J F. et al

Critical Care Medicine:  September 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 9 - p 1515–1522

Objectives: To examine the association between statin use and the risk of delirium in hospitalized patients with an admission to the medical ICU. Design: Retrospective propensity-matched cohort analysis with accrual from September 1, 2012, to September 30, 2015. Setting: Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT. Patients: An initial population of patients with an admission to a medical ICU totaling 10,216 visits were screened for delirium by means of the Confusion Assessment Method. After exclusions, a population of 6,664 was used to match statin users and nonstatin users. The propensity-matched cohort resulted in a sample of 1,475 patients receiving statin matched 1:1 with control patients not using statin. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: Delirium defined as a positive Confusion Assessment Method assessment was the primary end point. The prevalence of delirium was 22.3% in the unmatched cohort and 22.8% in the propensity-matched cohort. Statin use was associated with a significant decrease in the risk of delirium (odds ratio, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.38–0.56). Considering the type of statin used, atorvastatin (0.51; 0.41–0.64), pravastatin (0.40; 0.28–0.58), and simvastatin (0.33; 0.21–0.52) were all significantly associated with a reduced frequency of delirium. Conclusions: The use of statins was independently associated with a reduction in the risk of delirium in hospitalized patients. When considering types of statins used, this reduction was significant in patients using atorvastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin. Randomized trials of various statin types in hospitalized patients prone to delirium should validate their use in protection from delirium.

The Impact of the Sepsis-3 Septic Shock Definition on Previously Defined Septic Shock Patients


The Impact of the Sepsis-3 Septic Shock Definition on Previously Defined Septic Shock Patients
Sterling, S A. et al
Critical Care Medicine:  September 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 9 - p 1436–1442

Objective: The Third International Consensus Definitions Task Force (Sepsis-3) recently recommended changes to the definitions of sepsis. The impact of these changes remains unclear. Our objective was to determine the outcomes of patients meeting Sepsis-3 septic shock criteria versus patients meeting the “old” (1991) criteria of septic shock only. Design: Secondary analysis of two clinical trials of early septic shock resuscitation. 
Setting: Large academic emergency departments in the United States. Patients: Patients with suspected infection, more than or equal to two systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria, and systolic blood pressure less than 90 mm Hg after fluid resuscitation. Interventions: Patients were further categorized as Sepsis-3 septic shock if they demonstrated hypotension, received vasopressors, and exhibited a lactate greater than 2 mmol/L. We compared in-hospital mortality in patients who met the old definition only with those who met the Sepsis-3 criteria. Measurements and Main 
Results: Four hundred seventy patients were included in the present analysis. Two hundred (42.5%) met Sepsis-3 criteria, whereas 270 (57.4%) met only the old definition. Patients meeting Sepsis-3 criteria demonstrated higher severity of illness by Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score (9 vs 5; p < 0.001) and mortality (29% vs 14%; p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis of 127 patients meeting only the old definition demonstrated significant mortality benefit following implementation of a quantitative resuscitation protocol (35% vs 10%; p = 0.006). 
Conclusion: In this analysis, 57% of patients meeting old definition for septic shock did not meet Sepsis-3 criteria. Although Sepsis-3 criteria identified a group of patients with increased organ failure and higher mortality, those patients who met the old criteria and not Sepsis-3 criteria still demonstrated significant organ failure and 14% mortality rate.

Clinical Practice Guideline: Safe Medication Use in the ICU

Clinical Practice Guideline: Safe Medication Use in the ICU

Kane-Gill, S L et al
Critical Care Medicine:  September 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 9 - p e877–e915

Objective: To provide ICU clinicians with evidence-based guidance on safe medication use practices for the critically ill. Data Sources: PubMed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, Scopus, and ISI Web of Science for relevant material to December 2015.
Study Selection: Based on three key components: 1) environment and patients, 2) the medication use process, and 3) the patient safety surveillance system. The committee collectively developed Population, Intervention, Comparator, Outcome questions and quality of evidence statements pertaining to medication errors and adverse drug events addressing the key components. A total of 34 Population, Intervention, Comparator, Outcome questions, five quality of evidence statements, and one commentary on disclosure was developed.
Data Extraction: Subcommittee members were assigned selected Population, Intervention, Comparator, Outcome questions or quality of evidence statements. Subcommittee members completed their Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation of the question with his/her quality of evidence assessment and proposed strength of recommendation, then the draft was reviewed by the relevant subcommittee. The subcommittee collectively reviewed the evidence profiles for each question they developed. After the draft was discussed and approved by the entire committee, then the document was circulated among all members for voting on the quality of evidence and strength of recommendation.
Data Synthesis: The committee followed the principles of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system to determine quality of evidence and strength of recommendations. Conclusions: This guideline evaluates the ICU environment as a risk for medication-related events and the environmental changes that are possible to improve safe medication use. Prevention strategies for medication-related events are reviewed by medication use process node (prescribing, distribution, administration, monitoring). Detailed considerations to an active surveillance system that includes reporting, identification, and evaluation are discussed. Also, highlighted is the need for future research for safe medication practices that is specific to critically ill patients.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Hyperchloremia Is Associated With Acute Kidney Injury in Patients With Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Hyperchloremia Is Associated With Acute Kidney Injury in Patients With Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Sadan, O et al
Critical Care Medicine: August 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 8 - p 1382–1388


Objective: To assess the prevalence of acute kidney injury in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage patients. Design: Retrospective analysis of all subarachnoid hemorrhage admissions. Settings: Neurocritical care unit. Patients: All patients with a diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage between 2009 and 2014. Interventions: None. 
Measurements and Main Results: Of 1,267 patients included in this cohort, 16.7% developed acute kidney injury, as defined by Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcome criteria (changes in creatinine only). Compared to patients without acute kidney injury, patients with acute kidney injury had a higher prevalence of diabetes mellitus (21.2% vs 9.8%; p < 0.001) and hypertension (70.3% vs 50.5%; p < 0.001) and presented with higher admission creatinine concentrations (1.21 ± 0.09 vs 0.81 ± 0.01 mg/dL [mean ± SD], respectively; p < 0.001). Patients with acute kidney injury also had higher mean serum chloride and sodium concentrations during their ICU stay (113.4 ± 0.6 vs 107.1 ± 0.2 mmol/L and 143.3 ± 0.4 vs 138.8 ± 0.1 mmol/L, respectively; p < 0.001 for both), but similar chloride exposure. The mortality rate was also significantly higher in patients with acute kidney injury (28.3% vs 6.1% in the non-acute kidney injury group [p < 0.001]). Logistic regression analysis revealed that only male gender (odds ratio, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.28–2.59), hypertension (odds ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.11–2.43), diabetes mellitus (odds ratio, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.19–2.99), abnormal baseline creatinine (odds ratio, 2.48; 95% CI, 1.59–3.88), and increase in mean serum chloride concentration (per 10 mmol/L; odds ratio, 7.39; 95% CI, 3.44–18.23), but not sodium, were associated with development of acute kidney injury. Kidney recovery was noted in 78.8% of the cases. Recovery reduced mortality compared to non-recovering subgroup (18.6% and 64.4%, respectively; p < 0.001). 
Conclusions: Critically ill patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage show a strong association between hyperchloremia and acute kidney injury as well as acute kidney injury and mortality.

Nonlinear Imputation of PaO2/FIO2 From SpO2/FIO2 Among Mechanically Ventilated Patients in the ICU: A Prospective, Observational Study

Nonlinear Imputation of PaO2/FIO2 From SpO2/FIO2 Among Mechanically Ventilated Patients in the ICU: A Prospective, Observational Study

Brown, S et al
Critical Care Medicine: August 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 8 - p 1317–1324

Objectives: In the contemporary ICU, mechanically ventilated patients may not have arterial blood gas measurements available at relevant timepoints. Severity criteria often depend on arterial blood gas results. Retrospective studies suggest that nonlinear imputation of PaO2/FIO2 from SpO2/FIO2 is accurate, but this has not been established prospectively among mechanically ventilated ICU patients. The objective was to validate the superiority of nonlinear imputation of PaO2/FIO2 among mechanically ventilated patients and understand what factors influence the accuracy of imputation. 
Design: Simultaneous SpO2, oximeter characteristics, receipt of vasopressors, and skin pigmentation were recorded at the time of a clinical arterial blood gas. Acute respiratory distress syndrome criteria were recorded. For each imputation method, we calculated both imputation error and the area under the curve for patients meeting criteria for acute respiratory distress syndrome (PaO2/FIO2 ≤ 300) and moderate-severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (PaO2/FIO2 ≤ 150). Setting: Nine hospitals within the Prevention and Early Treatment of Acute Lung Injury network. Patients: We prospectively enrolled 703 mechanically ventilated patients admitted to the emergency departments or ICUs of participating study hospitals. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: We studied 1,034 arterial blood gases from 703 patients; 650 arterial blood gases were associated with SpO2 less than or equal to 96%. Nonlinear imputation had consistently lower error than other techniques. Among all patients, nonlinear had a lower error (p < 0.001) and higher (p < 0.001) area under the curve (0.87; 95% CI, 0.85–0.90) for PaO2/FIO2 less than or equal to 300 than linear/log-linear (0.80; 95% CI, 0.76–0.83) imputation. All imputation methods better identified moderate-severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (PaO2/FIO2 ≤ 150); nonlinear imputation remained superior (p < 0.001). For PaO2/FIO2 less than or equal to 150, the sensitivity and specificity for nonlinear imputation were 0.87 (95% CI, 0.83–0.90) and 0.91 (95% CI, 0.88–0.93), respectively. Skin pigmentation and receipt of vasopressors were not associated with imputation accuracy. 
Conclusions: In mechanically ventilated patients, nonlinear imputation of PaO2/FIO2 from SpO2/FIO2 seems accurate, especially for moderate-severe hypoxemia. Linear and log-linear imputations cannot be recommended.

Key factors for hand hygiene promotion in intensive care units

Key factors for hand hygiene promotion in intensive care units

De Wandel D et al
Critical Care Medicine: Article in Press

Hand hygiene remains a cornerstone in the fight against healthcare-associated infections and multidrug resistance (Blot, 2008). Hand hygiene behaviour is deep-rooted and difficult to change. According to a recently published Intensive & Critical Care Nursing article by Battistella et al. (2017), professional hand hygiene behaviour in intensive care settings is influenced by habits of social handwashing in everyday life. Therefore, they plead for the creation of specific professional hand hygiene habits (washing hands should become ‘a routine inside a habit’).

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Acute Decompensated Heart Failure

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for Acute Decompensated Heart Failure

Dangers, L et al
Critical Care Medicine: August 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 8 - p 1359–1366

Objective: Long-term outcomes of patients treated with venoarterial-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for acute decompensated heart failure (i.e., cardiogenic shock complicating chronic cardiomyopathy) have not yet been reported. This study was undertaken to describe their outcomes and determine mortality-associated factors. Design: Retrospective analysis of data prospectively collected. Setting: Twenty-six–bed tertiary hospital ICU. Patients: One hundred five patients implanted with venoarterial-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for acute decompensated heart failure. Intervention: None. 
Measurements and Main Results: From March 2007 to January 2015, 105 patients were implanted with venoarterial-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for acute decompensated heart failure in our ICU (67% of them had an intraaortic balloon pump to unload the left ventricle). Their 1-year survival rate was 42%; most of the survivors were transplanted either directly or after switching to central bilateral centrifugal pump, ventricular-assist device, or total artificial heart. Most deaths occurred early after multiple organ failure. Multivariable analyses retained (odds ratio [95% CI]) pre–extracorporeal membrane oxygenation Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score of more than 11 (3.3 [1.3–8.3]), idiopathic cardiomyopathy (0.4 [0.2–1]), cardiac disease duration greater than 2 years pre–extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (2.8 [1.2–6.9]), and pre–extracorporeal membrane oxygenation blood lactate greater than 4 mmol/L (2.6 [1.03–6.4]) as independent predictors of 1-year mortality. Only 17% of patients with pre–extracorporeal membrane oxygenation Sequential Organ Failure Assessment scores of 14 or more survived, whereas 52% of those with scores less than 7 and 60% of those with scores 7 or more and less than 11 were alive 1 year later. 
Conclusions: Among this selected cohort of 105 patients implanted with venoarterial-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for acute decompensated heart failure, 1-year survival was 42%, but better for patients with pre–extracorporeal membrane oxygenation Sequential Organ Failure Assessment scores of less than 11. Venoarterial-extracorporeal membrane oxygenation should be considered for patients with acute decompensated heart failure, but timing of implantation is crucial.

Should All Massively Transfused Patients Be Treated Equally? An Analysis of Massive Transfusion Ratios in the Nontrauma Setting

Should All Massively Transfused Patients Be Treated Equally? An Analysis of Massive Transfusion Ratios in the Nontrauma Setting

Etchill, E et al
Critical Care Medicine: August 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 8 - Issue 8 - p 1311–1316

Objectives: Although balanced resuscitation has become integrated into massive transfusion practice, there is a paucity of evidence supporting the delivery of high ratios of plasma and platelet to RBCs in the nontrauma setting. This study investigated the administration of blood component ratios in the massively transfused nontrauma demographic. 
Design: Retrospective analysis of a prospective, observational cohort of massively bleeding patients. Setting: Surgical and critically ill patients at a tertiary medical center between 2011 and 2015. Patients: Massively transfused nontrauma patients. Interventions: Patients receiving plasma, platelet, and RBC transfusions were categorized into high and low ratio groups and analyzed for differences in characteristics and clinical outcomes. Measurements and Main Results: The primary outcome was 30-day mortality. Secondary outcomes included 48-hour mortality, hospital length of stay, ICU length of stay, and ventilator-free days. Among 601 massively transfused nontrauma patients, cardiothoracic surgery and gastrointestinal or hepato-pancreatico-biliary bleeds were the most common indications for massive transfusion. Higher fresh frozen plasma ratios (> 1:2) were not associated with increased 30-day mortality. A high platelets-to-packed RBCs ratio (> 1:2) was associated with decreased 48-hour mortality (10.5% vs 19.3%; p = 0.032), but not 30-day mortality. Fresh frozen plasma-to-packed RBCs and platelets-to-packed RBCs ratios were not associated with 30-day mortality hazard ratios after controlling for baseline characteristics and disease severity. 
Conclusions: The benefits of higher ratios of fresh frozen plasma-to-packed RBCs and platelets-to-packed RBCs described in trials of trauma patients were not observed in this analysis of a nontrauma, massively transfused population. These data suggest that greater than 1:2 ratio transfusion in the setting of massive hemorrhage may not be appropriate for all patients, and that further research to guide appropriate resuscitation strategies in nontrauma patients is warranted.

Antibiotic Therapy in Comatose Mechanically Ventilated Patients Following Aspiration: Differentiating Pneumonia From Pneumonitis

Antibiotic Therapy in Comatose Mechanically Ventilated Patients Following Aspiration: Differentiating Pneumonia From Pneumonitis

Lascarrou, JB et al
Critical Care Medicine: August 2017 - Volume 45 - Issue 8 - p 1268–1275

Objectives: To determine the proportion of patients with documented bacterial aspiration pneumonia among comatose ICU patients with symptoms suggesting either bacterial aspiration pneumonia or non-bacterial aspiration pneumonitis. Design: Prospective observational study. Setting: University-affiliated 30-bed ICU. Patients: Prospective cohort of 250 patients admitted to the ICU with coma (Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 8) and treated with invasive mechanical ventilation. Interventions: None. Measurements and Main Results: The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with microbiologically documented bacterial aspiration pneumonia. Patients meeting predefined criteria for aspiration syndrome routinely underwent telescopic plugged catheter sampling during bronchoscopy before starting probabilistic antibiotic treatment. When cultures were negative, the antibiotic treatment was stopped. Of 250 included patients, 98 (39.2%) had aspiration syndrome, including 92 before mechanical ventilation discontinuation. Telescopic plugged catheter in these 92 patients showed bacterial aspiration pneumonia in 43 patients (46.7%). Among the remaining 49 patients, 16 continued to receive antibiotics, usually for infections other than pneumonia; of the 33 patients whose antibiotics were discontinued, only two subsequently showed signs of lung infection. In the six patients with aspiration syndrome after mechanical ventilation, and therefore without telescopic plugged catheter, antibiotic treatment was continued for 7 days. Mechanical ventilation duration, ICU length of stay, and mortality did not differ between the 43 patients with bacterial aspiration pneumonia and the 49 patients with non-bacterial aspiration pneumonitis. The 152 patients without aspiration syndrome did not receive antibiotics. Conclusions: Among comatose patients receiving mechanical ventilation, those without clinical, laboratory, or radiologic evidence of bacterial aspiration pneumonia did not require antibiotics. In those with suspected bacterial aspiration pneumonia, stopping empirical antibiotic therapy when routine telescopic plugged catheter sampling recovered no microorganisms was nearly always effective. This strategy may be a valid alternative to routine full-course antibiotic therapy. Only half the patients with suspected bacterial aspiration pneumonia had this diagnosis confirmed by telescopic plugged catheter sampling.