Many people have remarkable stories about how nurses have affected their lives. Sometimes it’s in small ways, like checking up on a patient a few extra times, and sometimes the impact is made in big gestures, such as life-saving interventions. Their skills are unmatched, and they’re capable of making life much easier for a patient. This is overwhelmingly apparent in the work that ventilator nurses perform. Every day they make sure that this life-saving machine is doing its job, correcting it when it’s not, and putting patients in a position where they feel safe.
At Better Options Ventilator Specialty Care, we know how important it is to have high-quality, personable nurses on staff. We have a patient to caregiver ratio of 1:3, and our nurses are who help create the family atmosphere we’re so proud of. There are so many ways that ventilator nurses improve the lives of people who are ventilator dependent. We’ve created a list that’s just a portion of what they do every day to make the lives of patients that much easier.
One of the most necessary ways that ventilator nurses can improve the lives of patients is by accurately assessing their pain and contributing to pain management. In many cases, with patients who are ventilator dependent, talking can be difficult, or the patient may not be able to speak at all. This makes it harder for a patient to communicate to loved ones that they are in pain. A trained ventilator nurse will be able to properly evaluate a patient and realize when they are in pain and need attending to.
Though assessing physical pain is a priority, nurses are trained to keep an eye out for emotional pain as well. Noticing major mood changes is one of the many things nurses are trained for so that they can suggest ways to increase the emotional well-being of a patient, as well as physical well-being.
Soon after a ventilator nurse greets a patient, they begin checking their ventilator to make sure that everything is working correctly. This includes looking over the ventilator to make sure that it’s set to the correct settings for that specific patient. If just one aspect of the ventilator isn’t on the setting it should be, it could cause discomfort for the patient. Different modes are used to ensure the patient has an healthy respiratory rate and that the monitor is recording things accurately. Double-checking this regularly is just one of the many things nurses do to ensure their patients aren’t having any problems.
There are few people who will understand a patient’s needs as well as their ventilator nurse. There are often many terms, procedures, and day-to-day inconveniences that are exclusive to people who are ventilator dependent or who are working closely with them. Nurses in this line of work provide a friendly outlet for patients, as someone who understands what they are going through. At times when others are overwhelmed by the equipment or the way a patient’s life changes when they become dependent on a ventilator, a nurse can provide a sense of normalcy that may be lost, if only for a short while, by their friends and family. Having someone who understands what they are going through from the very beginning can make for a smoother transition.
One of the biggest health risks that come with being ventilator dependent is the risk of infection, specifically ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). When a patient is using a ventilator, the breathing tube is susceptible to bacteria. That means more bacteria than usual is entering the body, which then causes infections. From proper and extensive training, a ventilator nurse works to prevent that infection from ever occurring. Providing proper oral care and having proper bed elevation are just a couple of ways that a ventilator nurse works to prevent infections.
Despite using preventative measures, some bacteria are persistent, and infections may still occur. Another job that a ventilation nurse takes on is being knowledgeable of the symptoms of these infections. Knowing what to look out for helps to catch the infection at an early stage, before it has time to strengthen and cause more issues for the patient. After noticing symptoms of VAP, like shortness of breath, fever and chills, or chest pain, a nurse will go through the proper steps to make sure a patient is properly diagnosed and treated with antibiotics.
At Better Options Ventilator Specialty Care, our patients get up and out of the bed every day, even if it’s just moving to a nearby chair. Our nurses encourage our residents to maintain their mobility, as it can help their overall well-being and their respiratory health. Having someone there to help them get up and to hold them to that standard allows the patient to not become complacent. It also helps the patient become inspired to keep striving for their mobility. Even a little bit of movement each day can increase a patient’s quality of life.
As a loved one of a patient who is ventilator dependent, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by all of the new medical terms and practices you have to become familiar with. The equipment can seem intimidating and the stakes are high. As a patient, it’s an even more daunting task to release some of your freedom into the hands of strangers.
Luckily, ventilator nurses have a wealth of knowledge that they aren’t afraid to share. As they go about their work, a good ventilator nurse is willing to give advice and tips for how to best care for a patient or for ways a patient can be up-to-date with their health. They can teach you how to use the equipment, what it means when certain alarms go off, and what to do when that happens. One of the best ways ventilator nurses can improve the lives of their patients is by giving them information, which in turn gives a patient some of their independence back.