Acute respiratory failure represents the most common condition requiring admission to an adult intensive care unit. Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) has been used as a marker of quality for patients with respiratory failure. Hospital-based process-improvement initiatives to prevent VAP have been successfully used. The use of ventilator-associated complications (VACs) has been proposed as an objective marker to assess the quality of care for this patient population. The use of evidence-based bundles targeting the reduction of VACs, as well as the conduct of prospective studies showing that VACs are preventable complications, are reasonable first-steps in addressing this important clinical problem.