In today’s world, nurses and medical professionals are becoming increasingly likely to care for patients on mechanical ventilators. A ventilator is a tool used mostly in hospital settings, which supports breathing for those who have difficulty doing it themselves. They provide a variety of functions that our body needs to survive including the insertion of oxygen into the lungs and the removal of carbon dioxide from the body.
So, what patients are most likely to need the assistance of ventilators? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Ventilators most often are used during surgery if you’re under anesthesia (or) if a disease impairs your lung function.” Some diseases that may require a ventilator include: pneumonia, brain injury, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Consult with your primary care doctor if you experience any difficulty breathing or other respiratory issues such as persistent and painful coughing to see if ventilation care will be necessary.
The ventilator is placed into the mouth or nose of a patient and makes its way down into the windpipe to support breathing. The American Thoracic Society notes that, “The ventilator can deliver higher levels of oxygen than delivered by a mask or other device. The ventilator can also provide what is called positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP).” In addition to those benefits, the ventilator itself does not typically cause pain apart from mild discomfort due to a disliking of having the tube in their mouth or nose.
It is necessary that any ventilation management or care is done by skilled professionals in the medical field due to the complicated nature of the insertion as well as the necessary oversight during the patient’s time on a ventilation unit. Some places that tend to offer ventilation services include:
- Emergency Rooms (ERs)
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
- Post-Acute Care Centers
- Long Term Care Centers
MedlinePlus discusses that further by stating, “In the hospital, a person on a ventilator is watched closely by health care providers including doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists. People who need ventilators for long periods may stay in long-term care facilities.” A patient is typically unable to speak when they are on ventilation care. So, in addition to requiring additional attention for lung conditions, special efforts need to be taken to monitor their communication efforts and provide them with other ways to do so. A medical professional can also assist in receiving nutrition while using a ventilator through tubes into either a vein or the patient’s stomach.