Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation in critical and palliative care settings: Understanding the goals of therapy* Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: Although noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) is a widely accepted treatment for some patients with acute respiratory failure, the use of NPPV in patients who have decided to forego endotracheal intubation is controversial. Therefore, the Society of Critical Care Medicine charged this Task Force with developing an approach for considering use of NPPV for patients who choose to forego endotracheal intubation. DATA SOURCES AND METHODS: The Task Force met in person once, by conference call twice, and wrote this document during six subsequent months. We reviewed English-language literature on NPPV for acute respiratory failure. SYNTHESIS AND OVERVIEW: The use of NPPV for patients with acute respiratory failure can be classified into three categories: 1) NPPV as life support with no preset limitations on life-sustaining treatments, 2) NPPV as life support when patients and families have decided to forego endotracheal intubation, and 3) NPPV as a palliative measure when patients and families have chosen to forego all life support, receiving comfort measures only. For each category, we reviewed the rationale and evidence for NPPV, key points to communicate to patients and families, determinants of success and failure, appropriate healthcare settings, and alternative approaches if NPPV fails to achieve the original goals. CONCLUSIONS: This Task Force suggests an approach to use of NPPV for patients and families who choose to forego endotracheal intubation. NPPV should be applied after careful discussion of the goals of care, with explicit parameters for success and failure, by experienced personnel, and in appropriate healthcare settings. Future studies are needed to evaluate the clinical outcomes of using NPPV for patients who choose to forego endotracheal intubation and to examine the perspectives of patients, families, and clinicians on use of NPPV in these contexts.


  • Curtis, J Randall
  • Cook, Deborah
  • Sinuff, Tasnim
  • White, Douglas B
  • Hill, Nicholas
  • Keenan, Sean P
  • Benditt, Joshua O
  • Kacmarek, Robert
  • Kirchhoff, Karin T
  • Levy, Mitchell M

publication date

  • March 2007

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