Care of the critically ill patient with a tracheostomy
Intended for healthcare professionals

Care of the critically ill patient with a tracheostomy

John Billington Senior lecturer, School of Health Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England
Alison Luckett Senior lecturer, School of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To improve your knowledge of the equipment and procedures required when caring for a patient with a tracheostomy

  • To understand the role of the nurse in tracheostomy insertion and maintenance

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

Tracheostomy insertion and management is increasingly common in critical care units and general wards. Therefore, it is important that nurses are equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills to meet the individual needs of patients with a tracheostomy safely and competently. This article aims to enhance nurses’ understanding of the potential challenges that patients with a tracheostomy may experience, and to guide nurses in providing effective care and support to these patients. It outlines the care that should be provided for patients with a tracheostomy who are critically ill, including methods of humidification and endotracheal suctioning. This article also discusses the effects that a tracheostomy may have on a patient’s communication and psychological well-being, and explains the actions that nurses should take in an emergency and if complications occur.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11297


Billington J, Luckett A (2019) Care of the critically ill patient with a tracheostomy. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2019.e11297

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 07 January 2019

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