Pediatric Tracheostomy and Ventilator Care

About this topic

Photo of an ambulanceWelcome to the emergency care of the child with a tracheostomy and/or ventilator.  Anyone caring for a child with a tracheostomy must be prepared to recognize and respond to a life threatening tracheostomy emergency.Tracheostomy tube obstruction, accidental tracheostomy decannulation and difficulty inserting the tracheostomy tube are life threatening emergencies that can occur for a child with a trach or a child who is on a ventilator. This requires immediate emergency care.  It is imperative that the nurse caring for the child with a tracheostomy must be knowledgeable about responding to these emergencies.

This lesson will focus upon ways to prevent an emergency by being prepared.  Prevention and preparation for emergencies will help to eliminate them or result in positive outcomes.   It is important to know why the child has a tracheostomy and the status of the upper airway because it will assist the nurse with knowing how the child will respond if there is a plug in the tracheostomy tube or if an accidental decannulation occurs.  

One of the important preventative measure that will be emphasized in this lesson is having a tracheostomy "go bag" at all times.   The "go bag" can be any container that has the equipment needed for an emergency tracheostomy tube change, or any care related to the tracheostomy tube. Another important aspect of preparation is safe transport of the child.

This lesson will also review the steps in performing CPR on a child with a tracheostomy, and highlight what the nurse must be cognizant of while per forming CPR with this particular population.   Being prepared to respond to an emergency for the child with a tracheostomy will decrease the risk of potential harm or possible death of a child.

What you will learn

After you complete this lesson you will be able to do the following:

  • Predict the types of unexpected emergencies that can occur with a child with a tracheostomy or who is ventilator dependent.
  • Prepare for unexpected emergencies when caring for a child with a tracheostomy.
  • Describe how you would respond in the event of an unexpected emergency such as tracheostomy tube obstruction, accidental decannulation, or inability to replace a tracheostomy tube, including CPR technique.

Getting the most from this lesson

To learn more from this lesson we recommend that you approach it in the following way:

  • Read through the information on the home page. The concept viewers give you additional information about the underlined terms.
  • The lecture contains the primary content for the lesson.
  • Work through the learning activity to apply the information from the lecture.
  • You will be ready for the quiz after you have completed all components of the lesson.