How to remove a chest drain
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How to remove a chest drain

Elizabeth Allibone Head of clinical education and training, nursing, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, London, England

Rationale and key points

This article aims to help nurses to undertake the removal of a chest drain in a safe, effective and patient-centred manner. This procedure requires two practitioners. The chest drain will have been inserted aseptically to remove air, blood, fluid or pus from the pleural cavity.

Chest drains may be small or wide bore depending on the underlying condition and clinical setting. They may be secured with a mattress suture and/or an anchor suture.

Chest drains are usually removed under medical instructions when the patient’s lung has inflated, the underlying condition has resolved, there is no evidence of respiratory compromise or failure, and their anticoagulation status has been assessed as satisfactory.

Chest drains secured with a mattress suture should be removed by two practitioners. One practitioner is required to remove the tube and the other to tie the mattress suture (if present) and secure the site.

Reflective activity

Clinical skills articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How reading this article will change your practice.

How this article could be used to educate patients with chest drains.

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Nursing Standard. 30, 6, 34-36. doi: 10.7748/ns.30.6.34.s44


Peer review

All articles are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software.

Received: 01 December 2014

Accepted: 20 January 2015