Infection and illness can be challenging for the ventilator patient. For that reason, minimizing unnecessary exposure to germs is essential.
The mechanically ventilated patient is at increased risk of illness, such as pneumonia, because artificial airways bypass the body's defenses against inhaled germs and offer new routes for non-airborne bacteria.
One common source of germ exposure occurs during changes to the ventilator circuits. Even temporary breaks in the circuit during routine equipment changes can open the door to germs.
Patients are also more vulnerable to illness because of the humidity and secretions associated with artificial ventilation. Also, unplanned removal of the breathing tube, hyperactive airway response or air circulation of infected secretions, or ventilator condensate can also increase the risk of infection and illness.
Tips to minimize risk of exposure to pathogens include:
Managing the ventilator circuit
Focus on the system parts, areas of germ concentration and changes in the circuitry
Using bacterial filters
High performance filters remove harmful pathogens from air inhaled or exhaled by the patient
Avoiding hazards of humidification
Water that collects in the ventilator tubing can create a breeding ground for bacteria
Monitoring the patient
Watch for complications related to breaching the ventilator circuit, including equipment obstruction or disruption
Protecting the caregiver
Exposure to organisms in circuit condensate poses infection risks for the caregiver as well, so follow proper precautions
Cleaning a tracheostomy and inner cannula
Cleaning around a tracheostomy opening and an inner cannula can be fairly simple but very important if you follow our guidelines here