Rob Fowler

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Publications (8)31.61 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Controversies regarding the process and timing of the determination of death for controlled organ donation after circulatory death persist. This study assessed the feasibility of conducting a prospective, observational study of continuous monitoring of vital signs for 30 minutes after the clinical determination of death in five Canadian ICUs. Waveform data were analyzed. Prospective observational cohort study. One pediatric and four adult Canadian ICUs. One month of age or older, admitted to the ICU, and for whom a consensual decision to withdraw life-sustaining therapies had been made, with an anticipation of imminent death. None. Invasive arterial blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and oxygen saturation plethysmography activity were recorded and reviewed for 30 minutes after declaration of death. Feasibility was assessed (recruitment, consent rate, protocol compliance, and staff satisfaction). Of 188 subjects screened over 16 months, 41 subjects were enrolled (87% consent rate). Data collection was complete for 30 subjects (73% protocol compliance). In four subjects, arterial blood pressure resumed following cessation of activity. The longest period of cessation of arterial blood pressure before resumption was 89 seconds. The duration of resumed activity ranged from 1 to 172 seconds. No cases of sustained resumption of arterial blood pressure activity were recorded, and no instances of clinical autoresuscitation were reported. In nearly all patients (27 of 30), electrocardiogram activity continued after the disappearance of arterial blood pressure. This is the first observational study to prospectively collect waveform data for 30 minutes after the declaration of death. A future larger study may support initial data suggesting that circulatory function does not resume after more than 89 seconds of absence. Furthermore, persistence of cardiac electrical activity with the documented absence of circulation may not be relevant to declaration of death.
    Critical care medicine 05/2014; · 6.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of this study was to identify the self-reported barriers to and facilitators of prescribing low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) thromboprophylaxis in the intensive care unit (ICU). We conducted an interviewer-administered survey of 4 individuals per ICU (the ICU director, a bedside pharmacist, a thromboprophylaxis research coordinator, and physician site investigator) regarding LMWH thromboprophylaxis for medical-surgical patients in 27 ICUs in Canada and the United States. Items were generated by the research team and adapted from previous surveys, audits, qualitative studies, and quality improvement research. Respondents rated the barriers to LMWH use, facilitators (effectiveness, affordability, and acceptability thereof), and perceptions regarding LMWH use. Respondents had 14.5 (SD, 7.7) years of ICU experience (response rate, 99%). The 5 most common barriers in descending order were as follows: drug acquisition cost, fear of bleeding, lack of resident education, concern about bioaccumulation in renal failure, and habit. The top 5 rated facilitators were preprinted orders, education, daily reminders, audit and feedback, and local quality improvement committee endorsement. Centers using preprinted orders (mean difference [P<.01]) and computerized physician order entry (P<.01) compared with those centers not using those tools reported higher affordability for these 2 facilitators. Compared with physicians and pharmacists, research coordinators considered ICU-specific audit and feedback of thromboprophylaxis rates to be a more effective, acceptable, and affordable facilitator (odds ratio, 6.67; 95% confidence interval, 1.97-22.53; P<.01). Facilitator acceptability ratings were similar within centers but differed across centers (P≤.01). This multicenter survey found several barriers to use of LMWH including cost, concern about bleeding, and lack of resident knowledge of effectiveness. The diversity of reported facilitators suggests that large scale programs may address generic barriers but also need site-specific interprofessional knowledge translation activities.
    Journal of critical care 02/2014; · 2.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: The efficacy of systemic corticosteroids in many critical illnesses remains uncertain. Our primary objective was to survey intensivists in North America about their perceived use of corticosteroids in clinical practice. DESIGN: Self-administered paper survey. POPULATION: Intensivists in academic hospitals with clinical trial expertise in critical illness. MEASUREMENTS: We generated questionnaire items in focus groups and refined them after assessments of clinical sensibility and test-retest reliability and pilot testing. We administered the survey to experienced intensivists practicing in selected North American centres actively enrolling patients in the multicentre Oscillation for ARDS Treated Early (OSCILLATE) Trial (ISRCTN87124254). Respondents used a four-point scale to grade how frequently they would administer corticosteroids in 14 clinical settings. They also reported their opinions on 16 potential near-absolute indications or contraindications for the use of corticosteroids. MAIN RESULTS: Our response rate was 82% (103/125). Respondents were general internists (50%), respirologists (22%), anesthesiologists (21%), and surgeons (7%) who practiced in mixed medical-surgical units. A majority of respondents reported almost always prescribing corticosteroids in the setting of significant bronchospasm in a mechanically ventilated patient (94%), recent corticosteroid use and low blood pressure (93%), and vasopressor-refractory septic shock (52%). Although more than half of respondents stated they would almost never prescribe corticosteroids in severe community-acquired pneumonia (81%), acute lung injury (ALI, 76%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS, 65%), and severe ARDS (51%), variability increased with severity of acute lung injury. Near-absolute indications selected by most respondents included known adrenal insufficiency (99%) and suspicion of cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (89%), connective tissue disease (85%), or other potentially corticosteroid-responsive illnesses (85%). CONCLUSIONS: Respondents reported rarely prescribing corticosteroids for ALI, but accepted them for bronchospasm, suspected adrenal insufficiency due to previous corticosteroid use, and vasopressor-refractory septic shock. These competing indications will complicate the design and interpretation of any future large-scale trial of corticosteroids in critical illness.
    Canadian Anaesthetists? Society Journal 04/2013; · 2.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: Research on coenrolment practices and its impact are limited in the ICU setting. The objectives of this study were; 1) to describe patterns and predictors of coenrolment of patients in a thromboprophylaxis trial, and 2) to examine the consequences of coenrolment on clinical and trial outcomes. METHODS: In an observational analysis of an international thromboprophylaxis trial in 67 ICUs, we examined the coenrolment of critically ill medical-surgical patients into more than one study, and examined the clinical and trial outcomes among coenrolled and non-coenrolled patients. RESULTS: Among 3746 patients enrolled in the Prophylaxis for ThromboEmbolism in Critical Care Trial, 713 (19.0%) were coenrolled in at least one other study (53.6% in a randomized trial, 37.0% in an observational study, and 9.4% in both). Six factors independently associated with coenrolment (all p<0.001) were illness severity (odds ratio [OR] 1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.19-1.53 for each 10 point APACHE II score increase), substitute decision-makers providing consent, rather than patients (OR 3.31, 2.03-5.41), experience of persons inviting consent (OR 2.67, 1.74-4.11 for persons with >10 years experience compared to persons with none), center size (all ORs >10 for ICUs with >15 beds), affiliation with trials groups (OR 5.59, 3.49-8.95), and main trial rather than pilot phase (all ORs >8 for recruitment year beyond the pilot). Coenrolment did not influence clinical or trial outcomes or risk of adverse events. CONCLUSIONS: Coenrolment was strongly associated with features of the patients, research personnel, setting and study. Coenrolment had no impact on trial results, and appeared safe, acceptable and feasible. Transparent reporting, scholarly discourse, ethical analysis, and further research are needed on the complex topic of coenrolment during critical illness.
    Critical care (London, England) 01/2013; 17(1):R1. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: There is a paucity of data about the clinical characteristics that help identify patients at high risk of influenza infection upon ICU admission. We aimed to identify predictors of influenza infection in patients admitted to ICUs during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 influenza seasons and the second wave of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic as well as to identify populations with increased likelihood of seasonal and pandemic 2009 influenza (pH1N1) infection. Six Toronto acute care hospitals participated in active surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza requiring ICU admission during periods of influenza activity from 2007 to 2009. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from patients who presented to our hospitals with acute respiratory or cardiac illness or febrile illness without a clear nonrespiratory aetiology. Predictors of influenza were assessed by multivariable logistic regression analysis and the likelihood of influenza in different populations was calculated. In 5,482 patients, 126 (2.3%) were found to have influenza. Admission temperature ≥38°C (odds ratio (OR) 4.7 for pH1N1, 2.3 for seasonal influenza) and admission diagnosis of pneumonia or respiratory infection (OR 7.3 for pH1N1, 4.2 for seasonal influenza) were independent predictors for influenza. During the peak weeks of influenza seasons, 17% of afebrile patients and 27% of febrile patients with pneumonia or respiratory infection had influenza. During the second wave of the 2009 pandemic, 26% of afebrile patients and 70% of febrile patients with pneumonia or respiratory infection had influenza. The findings of our study may assist clinicians in decision making regarding optimal management of adult patients admitted to ICUs during future influenza seasons. Influenza testing, empiric antiviral therapy and empiric infection control precautions should be considered in those patients who are admitted during influenza season with a diagnosis of pneumonia or respiratory infection and are either febrile or admitted during weeks of peak influenza activity.
    Critical care (London, England) 07/2011; 15(4):R182. · 4.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pandemic H1N1 influenza is projected to be unprecedented in its scope, causing acute critical illness among thousands of young otherwise healthy adults, who will need advanced life support. Rigorous, relevant, timely, and ethical clinical and health services research is crucial to improve their care and outcomes. Studies designed and conducted during a pandemic should be held to the same high methodologic and implementation standards as during other times. However, unique challenges arise with the need to conduct investigations as efficiently as possible, focused on the optimal outcome for the individual patient, while balancing the need for maximal societal benefit. We believe that clinical critical care research during a pandemic must be approached differently from research undertaken under nonemergent circumstances. We propose recommendations to clinical investigators and research ethics committees regarding clinical and health services research on pandemic-related critical illness. We also propose strategies such as expedited and centralized research ethics committee reviews and alternate consent models.
    Critical care medicine 12/2009; 38(4 Suppl):e138-42. · 6.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in ventilated critically ill patients. To develop evidence-based guidelines for the prevention of VAP. MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Register of Controlled Trials. The authors systematically searched for all relevant randomized, controlled trials and systematic reviews on the topic of prevention of VAP in adults that were published from 1980 to October 1, 2006. Independently and in duplicate, the panel scored the internal validity of each trial. Effect size, confidence intervals, and homogeneity of the results were scored using predefined definitions. Scores for the safety, feasibility, and economic issues were assigned based on consensus of the guideline panel. The following statements were used: recommend, consider, do not recommend, and no recommendation due to insufficient or conflicting evidence. To prevent VAP: We recommend: that the orotracheal route of intubation should be used for intubation; a new ventilator circuit for each patient; circuit changes if the circuit becomes soiled or damaged, but no scheduled changes; change of heat and moisture exchangers every 5 to 7 days or as clinically indicated; the use of a closed endotracheal suctioning system changed for each patient and as clinically indicated; subglottic secretion drainage in patients expected to be mechanically ventilated for more than 72 hours; head of bed elevation to 45 degrees (when impossible, as near to 45 degrees as possible should be considered). Consider: the use of rotating beds; oral antiseptic rinses. We do not recommend: use of bacterial filters; the use of iseganan We make no recommendations regarding: the use of a systematic search for sinusitis; type of airway humidification; timing of tracheostomy; prone positioning; aerosolized antibiotics; intranasal mupirocin; topical and/or intravenous antibiotics. There are a growing number of evidence-based strategies for VAP prevention, which, if applied in practice, may reduce the incidence of this serious nosocomial infection.
    Journal of Critical Care 04/2008; 23(1):126-37. · 2.50 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in ventilated critically ill patients. Despite a large amount of research evidence, the optimal diagnostic and treatment strategies for VAP remain controversial. The aim of this study was to develop evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of VAP. Data sources include Medline, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Register of Controlled Trials. The authors systematically searched for all relevant randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews on the diagnosis and treatment of VAP in mechanically ventilated adults that were published from 1980 to October 1, 2006. Independently and in duplicate, the panel critically appraised each published trial. The effect size, confidence intervals, and homogeneity of the results were scored using predefined definitions. The full guideline development panel arrived at a consensus for scores on safety, feasibility, and economic issues. Based on the scores for each topic, the following statements of recommendation were used: recommend, consider, do not recommend, and no recommendation because of insufficient or conflicting evidence. For the diagnosis of VAP in immunocompetent patients, we recommend that endotracheal aspirates with nonquantitative cultures be used as the initial diagnostic strategy. When there is a suspicion of VAP, we recommend empiric antimicrobial therapy (in contrast to delayed or culture directed therapy) and appropriate single agent antimicrobial therapy for each potential pathogen as empiric therapy for VAP. Choice of antibiotics should be based on patient factors and local resistance patterns. We recommend that an antibiotic discontinuation strategy be used in patients who are treated of suspected VAP. For patients who receive adequate initial antibiotic therapy, we recommend 8 days of antibiotic therapy. We do not recommend nebulized endotracheal tobramycin or intratracheal instillation of tobramycin for the treatment of VAP. We present evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of VAP. Implementation of these recommendations into clinical practice may lessen the morbidity and mortality of patients who develop VAP.
    Journal of Critical Care 04/2008; 23(1):138-47. · 2.50 Impact Factor