Tracheostomy care: the role of the nurse before, during and after insertion
Intended for healthcare professionals

Tracheostomy care: the role of the nurse before, during and after insertion

Cariona Flaherty Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing, School of Health and Education, Middlesex University, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the indications, benefits and complications of tracheostomy insertion

  • To enhance your knowledge of the effective management of patients with a tracheostomy

  • 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)

A tracheostomy is a surgical procedure that involves creating an opening and inserting a tube in the trachea to enable air transit from the external atmosphere to the lungs. The insertion of a tracheostomy is a common procedure used to wean patients from mechanical ventilation and to manage patients with upper respiratory tract complications. Furthermore, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in many patients requiring a tracheostomy as part of respiratory management. The two most commonly used tracheostomy insertion procedures are the open surgical tracheostomy and the percutaneous dilatation tracheostomy, both of which are associated with a range of complications. This article outlines the indications, benefits and complications of tracheostomy insertion, as well as the various types of tracheostomy tube that may be used. It also explains the role of the nurse in caring for patients before, during and after tracheostomy insertion, including the management of tracheostomy-related complications and emergencies.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11500

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

Flaherty C (2020) Tracheostomy care: the role of the nurse before, during and after insertion. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11500

Published online: 13 July 2020

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