The major objection voiced to the draft VALORI definition is that by removing some aspects that introduce subjectivity, the definition becomes more of a severity of illness measure than a description of what we know clinically to be VAP. The definition also retains some elements that are subjective (or hinge on clinician behavior, such as use of antibiotics), so it isn’t clear if it will have better performance characteristics than the current NHSN definitions.
In my view, we should not use VAP as a quality measure, period. VAP rates should not be compared across hospitals, publicly disclosed, or used in any pay-for-performance schemes. For as soon as they are, hospitals will quickly learn to reduce their rates without doing anything that actually improves patient outcomes (e.g. by narrowly interpreting clinical signs or CXR findings, by seeking consensus among multiple IPs for each case, or by incorporating clinician’s opinions regarding the diagnosis).
In the meantime, we can probably agree on some practices that could be selected for public reporting and benchmarking (i.e. process measures). The practices chosen should be those that are demonstrated to improve meaningful patient outcomes in controlled clinical trials. A great example is this 4-center study of spontaneous awakening + spontaneous breathing trials. The investigators, recognizing the futility of defining VAP, instead demonstrated reductions in ICU days, vent days, hospital days, and mortality in the intervention group.