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Ventilation service offers life-saving treatment

New ventilation service at Christchurch Hospital offers life-saving treatment

29th July 2008

An innovative service has almost halved the mortality rate for people admitted to Christchurch Hospital with severe respiratory failure. Almost 200 people with emphysema and other respiratory diseases have benefited from the Acute Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) service.

Respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death in New Zealand.

NIV has earned Canterbury District Health Board a finalist’s place in the 2008 New Zealand Health Innovation Awards (HIA). It will compete against 19 other finalists.

Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialist Robyn Beach says NIV is safe and easy to use.

“Unlike invasive ventilation where a tube is inserted into the patient's throat, NIV uses a mask over the mouth, eliminating the risk of infection and injury. Patients at Christchurch Hospital can now be treated in the respiratory ward instead of waiting for a bed in intensive care, as was previously the case.”

In 2007, the use of NIV contributed to the reduction in mortality for those admitted with severe respiratory failure from 55 percent to 29 percent.

Most people using the ventilators are patients suffering from emphysema, but they are also helping those with respiratory failure from asthma, obesity and hypoventilation. In 2006 a humidifier was added to the ventilators which substantially increased the treatment's success and patient comfort.

The HIA are a joint endeavour of the Ministry of Health and ACC. They were started in 2003 to recognise individuals and organisations that have developed new and innovative approaches to delivering better health services.

Further information about the HIA is available online at

This year’s HIA winners will be announced at the expo and gala dinner held on 4 November at the Wellington Town Hall.


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