If a loved one has developed a respiratory condition, you’re well aware of the helplessness and confusion that comes along with it. These feelings can quickly develop into despair if they suffer from complications that require artificial ventilation to help them breathe. But, what exactly is a ventilator? How does it work? And how can you ensure that the equipment is properly maintained?
What is a ventilator?
A ventilator is a life support machine that pumps oxygen into a person’s lungs when they cannot breathe on their own. Typical examples include patients undergoing surgery under general anesthesia, post-operative care, and people with diseases that make breathing difficult or impossible — such as pneumonia, lung infections, collapsed lungs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and COVID-19, to name a few.
How does a ventilator work?
When a patient needs medical intervention to help them breathe, a healthcare professional will insert a tube through their mouth or nose into the trachea (the windpipe). Depending on the patient’s medical condition, they may breathe on their own with assistance from the ventilator or the ventilator may breathe for them. It only needs to be in place until the patient’s lungs can work unassisted on their own.
While it’s a life-saving technique, it’s also uncomfortable. While intubated, the patient cannot eat or speak and requires nutrition to be administered intravenously (through an IV). The doctor may also provide muscle relaxers, pain relievers, or sleep medications to make the experience more tolerable. If the patient’s condition makes the need for a ventilator long-term, it may be connected to their trachea through a hole on their neck.
While most ventilators require electricity, some of them work on battery power — which is crucial during natural disasters and/or when there’s a power outage. In addition, a healthcare professional will constantly monitor the patient to check for adequate breathing rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.
Ventilator Maintenance Checklist
It is crucial to properly maintain a ventilator. In addition to resulting in costly repairs if they break down, patients’ lives depend on them. Therefore, any healthcare provider should be familiar with the following steps:
Perform a visual inspection for any visible signs of damage.
Sanitize the unit.
Run a performance check.
Check air pressure and O2 supply.
Check the expiratory valve to make sure there are no leaks.
Verify that all alarms are working.
Make sure all oxygen filters are clean.
Clean the collection vial.
Clean the power fan.
Ensure there isn’t moisture collecting inside the tubes.
Calibrate oxygen sensors daily.
Ensure you are familiar with its safety features and emergency backups.
Make sure the battery is fully charged.
Note the date for upcoming preventive checks.
Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care in Florida
It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a loved one. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.
Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.
If you or a loved one are considering pediatric home health care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.