Tracheostomy care risk

Tracheostomy image

Staff need more training to deal with tracheostomy issues

Gaps in training for the essential breathing treatment tracheostomy could lead to potential life threatening situations, as doctors are not equipped to deal with blocked or dislodged tubes, reveals a new report.

With 12,000 tracheostomy procedures being carried out each year, The Intensive Care Society told BBC News care was sometimes “below what is safe and reasonable”.

Frequently used in hospitals across the country, the tubes are fitted to allow patients to breathe and are commonly used to help wean patients off ventilators to get them out of critical care beds and on to the general wards.

Worrying results

The report, by The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death, found that only 28% of hospitals trained staff to deal with a blocked or dislodged tracheostomy airway. The report also questioned the choice of tubes used for some patients and raised concerns about patients being discharged overnight.

Dr Kathy Wilkinson, a consultant in anaesthesia and an NCEPOD clinical co-ordinator said “One of most the common complications is a displaced or blocked tube, the patients lose their airway and it is a life-threatening emergency.The skills to sort this out need to be available or the patient can get into a lot of trouble quite quickly.”

Dr Andrew Goddard, from the Royal College of Physicians, commented “This report is very valuable in highlighting the areas of practice that need to be improved. In particular, it underlines the importance of not transferring patients between wards during the night, and the need for specialist expertise in managing patients with tracheostomies.”