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Ventilator Alarms & Settings

It’s important to know your child’s ventilator (vent) settings and alarms.

You’ll go home with a paper telling you what the vent settings are for your child. Leave this sheet posted on your ventilator. Every day, check that the vent is set correctly.

Your child’s doctor will decide when to change the ventilator settings. Do not ever change the ventilator settings by yourself!

What Each Ventilator Setting Means

Breath Rate (F)

The number of breaths delivered to your child in one minute

Inspiratory Pressure (IP)

The preset pressure to be delivered during your child’s in breath

Positive End Expiratory Pressure (PEEP)

The amount of pressure that is left in the lungs at the end of the out breath. This allows the air sacs in the lungs to remain partially open.

Peak Inspiratory Pressure (PIP)

The highest level of pressure that is in the lungs during the in breath

Pressure Support (PS)

The amount of pressure that is given to assist your child when they are taking their own breaths.

Tidal Volume (TV)

The amount of air that is delivered to your child’s lungs during one breath

Inspiratory Time (IT)

The amount of time it takes for one breath to be delivered on the in breath

Alarms and What To Do When They Happen

Occurs when the Peak Inspiratory Pressure (PIP) is more than the High Pressure alarm that is set on the ventilator. This means there is increased pressure in the lungs.

  • Is your child coughing or crying?
  • Does your child need to be suctioned?
  • Is your child’s trach plugged?
  • Is there water in the tubing?
  • Is the tubing kinked or pinched?
  • Does your child need a nebulizer treatment?

Occurs when the Peak Inspiratory Pressure (PIP) is less than the low pressure alarm set on the ventilator.

  • Did the trach come out?
  • Has your child become disconnected from the ventilator? (Follow the tubing from your child all the way back to the ventilator to make sure everything is connected and that tubing is tight.)
  • Is the trach cuff inflated and is there enough water in the cuff?
  • Is there water in the tubing?

Occurs when the low minute volume alarm that is set on the ventilator is lower than what the child is doing. Minute ventilation is your child’s respiratory rate (how fast they are breathing) x the Tidal volume (how much air is going into the lung during each breath).

  • Did the trach come out?
  • Has your child become disconnected from the ventilator? (Follow the tubing from your child all the way back to the ventilator to make sure everything is connected and that tubing is tight.)
  • Is the trach cuff inflated and is there enough water in the cuff?
  • Is there water in the tubing?
  • Is your child’s respiratory rate or tidal volume low?
  • Is your child coughing or crying?
  • Does your child need to be suctioned?
  • Is there water in the tubing?

Occurs when your child’s ventilator switches from external battery (plugged into the wall) to internal battery (the battery pack).

  • Is there power in the home?
  • Did the ventilator become unplugged from the wall?

It’s important that you start to think of a solution to get external power whether that is a generator or going to a family/friend's home. It’s important to always have your battery pack charged.

See Disaster Preparedness Plan

This occurs when the ventilator senses a circuit issue.

  • Has your child become disconnected from the ventilator? (Follow the tubing from your child all the way back to the ventilator to make sure everything is connected and that tubing is tight.)
  • Are the sensor lines attached to ventilator and not pinched or blocked?
  • Is there water that has accumulated in the sensor line?

Read the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Plan