Original

Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 35, Issue 10, pp 1687-1691

First online:

Evaluation of the user-friendliness of seven new generation intensive care ventilators

  • Laurence VignauxAffiliated withService des soins intensifs, Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire
  • , Didier TassauxAffiliated withService des soins intensifs, Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire
  • , Philippe JollietAffiliated withService des soins intensifs, Hôpital Cantonal Universitaire Email author 

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Abstract

Objective

To explore the user-friendliness and ergonomics of seven new generation intensive care ventilators.

Design

Prospective task-performing study.

Setting

Intensive care research laboratory, university hospital.

Methods

Ten physicians experienced in mechanical ventilation, but without prior knowledge of the ventilators, were asked to perform eight specific tasks [turning the ventilator on; recognizing mode and parameters; recognizing and setting alarms; mode change; finding and activating the pre-oxygenation function; pressure support setting; stand-by; finding and activating non-invasive ventilation (NIV) mode]. The time needed for each task was compared to a reference time (by trained physiotherapist familiar with the devices). A time >180 s was considered a task failure.

Results

For each of the tests on the ventilators, all physicians’ times were significantly higher than the reference time (P < 0.001). A mean of 13 ± 8 task failures (16%) was observed by the ventilator. The most frequently failed tasks were mode and parameter recognition, starting pressure support and finding the NIV mode. Least often failed tasks were turning on the pre-oxygenation function and alarm recognition and management. Overall, there was substantial heterogeneity between machines, some exhibiting better user-friendliness than others for certain tasks, but no ventilator was clearly better that the others on all points tested.

Conclusions

The present study adds to the available literature outlining the ergonomic shortcomings of mechanical ventilators. These results suggest that closer ties between end-users and manufacturers should be promoted, at an early development phase of these machines, based on the scientific evaluation of the cognitive processes involved by users in the clinical setting.

Keywords

Mechanical ventilation User-friendliness Ergonomics