When patients need help breathing, they sometimes receive mechanical ventilation. This means that a tube is inserted into the mouth and connected to a machine that delivers breaths into the lungs. The machine that delivers the breaths is called a ventilator. The amount of support provided by the ventilator is tailored to the needs and comfort of the patient.
There are many reasons that a patient may need mechanical ventilations. These include surgery, a blockage or obstruction in the airway that makes breathing difficult, or severe illness. Under the guidance of the medical team, the respiratory therapists are the people responsible for managing all aspects of care for patients requiring mechanical ventilation. They adjust settings on the machine and ensure that patients are doing what they need to do to get better and prevent complications.
A patient requiring mechanical ventilation cannot speak or chew and swallow food, so it helps to have family and visitors to provide reassurance and to help communicate the patient’s needs during their stay.