Optimising techniques to wean patients from invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) remains a key goal of intensive care practice. The use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV) as a weaning strategy (transitioning patients who are difficult to wean to early NIV) may reduce mortality, ventilator-associated pneumonia and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay.
Our objectives were to determine the cost effectiveness of protocolised weaning, including early extubation onto NIV, compared with weaning without NIV in a UK National Health Service setting.
We conducted an economic evaluation alongside a multicentre randomised controlled trial. Patients were randomised to either protocol-directed weaning from mechanical ventilation or ongoing IMV with daily spontaneous breathing trials. The primary efficacy outcome was time to liberation from ventilation. Bivariate regression of costs and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) provided estimates of the incremental cost per QALY and incremental net monetary benefit (INMB) overall and for subgroups [presence/absence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and operative status]. Long-term cost effectiveness was determined through extrapolation of survival curves using flexible parametric modelling.
NIV was associated with a mean INMB of £620 ($US885) (cost-effectiveness threshold of £20,000 per QALY) with a corresponding probability of 58% that NIV is cost effective. The probability that NIV is cost effective was higher for those with COPD (84%). NIV was cost effective over 5 years, with an estimated incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £4618 ($US6594 per QALY gained).
The probability of NIV being cost effective relative to weaning without NIV ranged between 57 and 59% overall and between 82 and 87% for the COPD subgroup.