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An Evidence-Based Evaluation of Tracheostomy Care Practices

Dennis-Rouse, Melissa D. RN, BSN, CEN; Davidson, Judy E. RN, DNP, CCRN, FCCM

doi: 10.1097/01.CNQ.0000314475.56754.08

Adverse outcomes related to tracheal occlusion and peritracheal skin breakdown stimulated a review of tracheostomy care. An evidence-based practice approach was taken to evaluate the problem. Organizational tracheostomy care policies were reviewed. Subcategories related to tracheostomy care were queried including securing devices, sutures and their removal, type and choice of dressings, prevention of skin breakdown, frequency of care and role delineation, and suctioning. A literature review was done. National experts were surveyed. A geographical survey was taken and vendors of tracheostomy products were interviewed. Collected evidence was scored along a continuum. Costs of supplies were evaluated. Physicians, staff, and patients were interviewed. Skin maceration on the neck was found on multiple audits. The type of tie was identified as a problem. Nurses and respiratory therapists reported difficulty providing tracheostomy care due to suturing technique and securing methods. The stocked dressing was too large to fit under sutures. Several conflicting policies existed regarding tracheostomy care, none of which identified responsibility for performing care: respiratory versus nursing or time standards for care. New supplies were trialed. A list of practice changes were agreed upon by respiratory, nursing, and medical staff. Primary responsibility for tracheostomy care was shifted to the registered nurse.

Author Affiliations: Emergency Department, Palomar Pomerado Health, Escondido, California (Ms Rouse); and Scripps Mercy Hospital, San Diego, California (Dr Davidson).

Corresponding Author: Melissa D. Dennis-Rouse, RN, BSN, CEN, Emergency Department, Palomar Pomerado Health, 555 East Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92025 (

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.