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Lip-reading and the ventilated patient*

Meltzer, Ellen C. MD, MSc; Gallagher, James J. MD; Suppes, Alexandra PhD; Fins, Joseph J. MD

doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e318241e56c
Clinical Investigations
SCCM Podcast

Objective: To present a clinical ethics case report that illustrates the benefits of using lip-reading interpreters for ventilated patients who are capable of mouthing words.

Design: Case report.

Setting: The burn unit of a university teaching hospital in New York City.

Patient: A 75-yr-old man was admitted to the burn unit with 50% total body surface area burns. He was awake, alert, ventilator-dependent via a tracheostomy, and able to mouth words.

Interventions: A deaf lip-reading interpreter and a hearing American sign language interpreter worked together in a circuit formation to provide verbal voice for the patient.

Conclusion: For the ventilated patient who can mouth words, lip-reading interpretation offers an opportunity for communication. It is time we routinely provide lip-reading interpreters as well as recognize the need for prospective studies examining the role of lip-reading in medical settings.

From the Division of Medical Ethics (ECM, AS, JJF), Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY; New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center (ECM, JJG, JJF), New York, NY.

*See also p. 1672.

All work performed at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University and NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The authors have not disclosed any potential conflicts of interest.

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© 2012 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins