Medical Ventilator Information
What is mechanical ventilation?
Mechanical ventilation is one of the most common interventions in an ICU. Over half of the patients admitted to the ICU are ventilated within the first 24 hours of admission. A ventilator helps an individual breathe.
Such a patient may have a medical condition that makes it difficult or impossible to breathe on his or her own, and the ventilator can either assist or perform the task completely, allowing the patient’ body to rest.
Ventilation delivers oxygen to the body, expels carbon dioxide, and generally eases the burden of breathing.
It’s important to know that a ventilator does not cure illness; it sustains the life of the patient, allowing doctors time to determine the cause of the problems and devise appropriate treatment.
What types of patients need ventilation?
Most commonly, if a patient is put on a ventilator, he or she is experiencing respiratory failure. This means there are low levels of oxygen in their blood, or that carbon dioxide levels are rising dangerously. In other instances there could be compromised airway or lung function due to an underlying medical condition, which would make breathing difficult although oxygen and carbon dioxide levels may be normal. Ventilation is as serious intervention, used when a patient’s health is severely compromised by a lack of ordinary breathing function.
Is communicating prohibited?
Ventilated patients are not able to talk. If this causes anxiety or frustration on the part of the patient, talk to the nurse about other ways to communicate. Such methods could include using a communication board, asking yes or no questions that can be answered with gestures, writing, or a text-to-speech communication aid.
Regardless of the technique, you should always try to reassure your friend or family member and encourage his attempts to communicate.
What do these alarms and beeps mean?
A patient on a ventilator will be attached to numerous devices that alert the hospital staff to any issues or changes in condition. While these noises can be disconcerting, nurses, respiratory therapists and Physicians are trained to recognize each sound and what corresponding action is called for. Many problems correct themselves which will be monitored from the nurse’s station even if a member of the care team isn’t present in the room.
Are there risks involved with ventilation?
Ventilation is a life-saving technology, but there can be serious health risks associated with prolonged use. A few of the main concerns, known as ventilator-associated events (VAEs), include ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), sepsis, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome(ARDS), pulmonary embolism, barotrauma, and pulmonary edema.Respiratory therapists and other members of the care team will work to ensure that a patient is taken off ventilation as soon as possible to avoid a VAE.
How is ventilation stopped?
If an individual’s condition is critical, he may become dependent on ventilation, which makes it more difficult to stop, but the end goal is always to be liberated from the ventilator. If spontaneous breathing trials go well, the patient will be removed from the ventilator when he is able to breathe unassisted.