OBJECTIVE: Management of tracheostomized patients typically involves a conventional external humidification system (CEHS). CEHS are noisy, negatively impact patient mobility, and increases costs. Additionally, they prevent phonation and the ability to cough. Alternatively, heat and moisture exchange (HME) devices have been used in laryngectomized patients. We present an institutional quality improvement project exploring the use and efficacy of an HME device following tracheostomy.METHODS: Health care professionals and stakeholders from multiple disciplines were identified: otolaryngology, nursing, administration, case management, and speech-language pathology. The focus was on an otolaryngology acute care nursing unit. Protocols for product acquisition, nursing education, care flowcharts, and discharge planning were established. Efficacy was assessed by tracking patient pulmonary status, nursing notes, and questionnaires.RESULTS: Seventy-one tracheostomized patients were enrolled. Two patients (2.8%) were unable to tolerate the HME. There were no complications from mucous plugging or respiratory distress. Eighty-nine percent of nursing staff surveyed preferred the use of an HME device over CEHS, particularly for ease of patient mobility. Additional favorable findings were patient satisfaction, cost savings, reduced noise, communication, and ease of discharge education and planning.DISCUSSION: Replacing CEHS with HMEs provides distinct advantages, with a positive impact on patients, family members, and health care personnel. Resistance to changing from the traditional standard of care was alleviated with education, focused training, and positive outcomes.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: These data indicate that an HME device is safe and offers advantages to both patients and nurses over traditional CEHS.
View details for DOI 10.1002/ohn.368
View details for PubMedID 37161949