For patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery, fast-track post-operative protocols can lead to faster extubation (within six hours) as well as shorter intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital stays. This fast-track care can take place in a specialised post-anaesthetic care unit (PACU) rather than an ICU.
In a randomised controlled trial involving 200 patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery, researchers compared the safety and efficacy of fast-track treatment in a specialised PACU and an ICU. Patients meeting the inclusion criteria who were deemed safe for fast-track care were randomised to the PACU or ICU groups. Outcomes were extubation time and length of stay in the PACU/ICU.
Post-operative care in the dedicated PACU led to shorter time to extubation (90 minutes compared to 478) and quicker discharge to a step down unit (3.3 hours compared to a 17.9 hours) without compromising patient safety.
This study suggests cardiac surgery patients who are cared for in a dedicated PACU have a shorter time to extubation and shorter length of stay compared to those cared for in ICU.
Written by Stephanie Harriman, Deputy Medical Editor for BioMed Central.
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