Ventilator-associated Pneumonia (VAP) Diagnostic Stewardship Trial

  • End date
    Dec 9, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Michigan
Updated on 9 April 2022


This is a prospective single-arm pilot/feasibility trial of a bundled diagnostic stewardship intervention at the level of the microbiologic testing pathway in ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). The study objectives are to safely and effectively reduce antibiotic overuse and its attendant hazards (adverse drug events, Clostridioides difficile diarrhea and generation of multidrug-resistant organisms) among mechanically-ventilated patients. Participating ICUs will have the following three modifications made in their respiratory culture workflows for mechanically-ventilated patients: 1) providers will be required to select a valid indication for respiratory culture performance (worsening ventilator requirements, purulent sputum production, and/or new radiographic infiltrate on chest imaging); 2) respiratory cultures will be preferentially obtained via bronchoscopic or nonbronchoscopic BAL (by respiratory therapists) rather than via endotracheal aspiration; and 3) BAL samples will be sent for cell count and differentials, and respiratory culture results will not be released for samples with <50% neutrophils. The study will carefully monitor adherence to study interventions, ICU-specific antibiotic utilization rates, and important safety metrics including rates of mortality, ventilator-dependence and ventilator-associated events.

The trial hypotheses are:

  • Implementation of a VAP diagnostic stewardship bundle will be successfully implemented without significant increases in mortality or ventilator-associated events.
  • Implementation of a VAP diagnostic stewardship bundle will be associated with a reduction in ICU-specific antibiotic utilization rates


Overdiagnosis of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is common among mechanically-ventilated patients and contributes to antibiotic overuse and the generation of multidrug resistant organisms within intensive care units (ICUs). Identification of interventions that safely and effectively lower VAP overdiagnosis and antibiotic overuse are important for antimicrobial stewardship programs. Antibiotic stewardship interventions targeting VAP have heretofore focused on therapeutic interventions-antibiotic de-escalation or discontinuation-in established VAP cases, but have not leveraged interventions at the level of the VAP diagnostic testing pathway to minimize overdiagnosis in the first place. Current microbiologic testing practices-specifically, indiscriminate ordering, collection and interpretation of respiratory cultures-incents VAP overdiagnosis and antibiotic overuse.

This is a single-arm prospective pilot/feasibility trial of a bundled diagnostic stewardship intervention targeting the microbiologic diagnostic testing pathway among mechanically-ventilated patients. This pilot/feasibility trial will implement system-based changes within ICUs in microbiologic diagnostic testing workflows with the goal of safely lowering antibiotic utilization rates in mechanically-ventilated patients. Specifically, the study will sequentially implement the following 3 changes in the diagnostic testing workflow for clinical providers:

  1. Ordering respiratory cultures:
  2. Current workflow: respiratory cultures can be ordered by frontline clinical providers without preconditions.
  3. Study intervention: frontline clinical providers will be required to select a valid indication for respiratory culture collection through a custom order set in the institutional electronic medical record (EMR).
  4. Collection of respiratory cultures:
  5. Current workflow: providers may collect endotracheal aspirates (proximal lung secretions) or bronchoalveolar lavage (distal lung secretions) for analysis.
  6. Study intervention: providers will be required to preferentially use only bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) to minimize false positive test results (assuming no contraindications to BAL performance). This will be accomplished through a custom order set in the institutional EMR.
  7. Reporting of respiratory cultures:
  8. Current workflow: positive respiratory culture results are automatically released in the EMR, regardless of likelihood of infection.
  9. Study intervention: respiratory culture results will be automatically released in the EMR only for BAL samples with a polymorphonuclear (PMN) percentage of >50% (to minimize false positive test results). Respiratory culture results for BAL samples with PMN% <50% will be released if the primary team calls the microbiology lab directly and requests result release.

All proposed interventions are within the standard of care for routine clinical practice, but have not been operationalized in parallel to each other and studied explicitly with the goal of reducing antibiotic overuse. The interventions will be implemented sequentially in 2-month intervals. The interventions will be operationalized through use of a custom order set in the institutional EMR, as well as through bimonthly provider educational sessions performed by study personnel during morning ICU rounds.

The study population in this trial includes all patients admitted to participating study ICUs for routine clinical care. Providers will engage in routine clinical care utilizing the aforementioned modified diagnostic testing workflows and the study will compare safety outcomes and ICU antibiotic utilization rates pre- and post-intervention implementation. A total of 1500 patients are anticipated to be admitted to participating Michigan Medicine ICUs over the course of the study period.

The study population will also include healthcare providers in participating ICUs who are providing routine clinical care utilizing these novel diagnostic testing workflows. Adherence to study interventions by these healthcare providers will be assessed during this study to inform project feasibility on a larger scale. A total of 200 healthcare providers are anticipated to provide care in participating ICUs during the study time period.

Condition VAP - Ventilator Associated Pneumonia
Treatment VAP diagnostic stewardship bundle
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05176353
SponsorUniversity of Michigan
Last Modified on9 April 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

healthcare providers working in units (CCU and CCMU) as part of routine clinical care

Exclusion Criteria

healthcare providers that are not as part of routine care in CCU and CCMU
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