TRACH-Support: A Conversation Tool for Tracheostomy and Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation


You can find the definition to some terms that you are likely to hear below:

Endotracheal tube (ET tube) a breathing tube connected to a breathing machine that enters the body through the mouth

Tracheostomy either a surgery to create a hole in the neck where a breathing tube can be inserted OR the name of the breathing tube that enters the neck

Ventilator a breathing machine for patients who cannot breathe on their own. Ventilators are a form of life support

Mechanical Ventilation breathing performed by a ventilator/breathing machine.

Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation Needing a breathing machine for more than 2 or 3 weeks. When the medical team thinks a patient will need prolonged mechanical ventilation (a breathing machine for more than 2 or 3 weeks), they might recommend a tracheostomy.

Weaning weaning is the process by which the support from the breathing machine is slowly reduced so that the patient has to work more to breathe. Weaning is process that the medical team will use to get a patient off a breathing machine. Weaning can take only a few days or can take weeks to months.

DNR do-not-resuscitate. This means that if a patient’s heart stops, the medical team will not do CPR to restart their heart.

DNI do-not-intubate. This means that the medical team will not place a patient on a ventilator/breathing machine. DNI orders often accompanies a DNR order.

Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) A LTACH is a type of long-term hospital that can provide a high-level of medical care and is often focused weaning patients off a breathing machine. They often have more capabilities on working with patients to get them off a breathing machine.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)  A SNF is a type of long-term facility that can provide basic nursing services and a small amount of physical therapy when needed. Patients who are not able to come off a breathing machine may go to a SNF.

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The Patient decision aids on this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.The material provided on this website is for informational purposes only and is not provided as medical advice. Nothing contained in these pages is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment. Any individual should consult with his or her own physician before starting any new treatment or with any question you may have regarding a medical condition. No personal health information will be collected from users. Contact information is only collected if the user requests additional information regarding one of the tools. Last Updated 10/31/2019

Funding by the National Institutes on Aging (1K23AG040696) and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PI000116-01).