In a wide variety of settings, nurses are increasingly likely to care for patients on mechanical ventilators. Let’s assume you’re one of them. What do you need to know to plan your shift? Which patient assessment parameters are crucial? What evidence-based practice guidelines should you follow? This article discusses the top ten essentials of nursing care for ventilator patients.

Care essential 1: Review communications

Communication among care pro­viders promotes optimal outcomes. For mechanically ventilated patients, care providers may include primary care physicians, pulmonary specialists, hospitalists, respiratory therapists, and nurses.

To make sure you’re aware of other team members’ communications about the patient, find out the goals of therapy for your patient when obtaining report. Why is she on a ventilator? To improve oxygenation? Boost ventilation? Permit sedation? Reverse respiratory muscle fatigue? Why is she on your unit? Because she has an underlying condition that complicates weaning from the ventilator? What is her do-not-resuscitate status?

Communicating with the patient is essential, too. Provide writing tools or a communication board so she can express her needs. Ask simple yes/no questions to which she can nod or shake her head.