How well do you know your ventilator?


This study, in the process of being published, concluded that Emergency Medicine residents report a low amount of ventilator training in their residency programmes. While this may not be entirely generalisable here, from my experience I've found the amount of teaching to be quite variable, and I've done a lot of reading and playing around with ventilators myself.

The key points for managing a ventilator (and the patient attached to it), in my book are:

  • Knowing your ventilator controls (knobology)
  • Knowing what each setting means and what it changes physiologically
  • Ventilator strategies for important pathologies:
    • Asthma & COPD
    • ARDS, severe pneumonia and acute lung injury
  • Troubleshooting the ventilator

We've covered some of the basics of our most-used ventilator, the Oxylog, in a previous post, and I'd recommend playing with the virtual Oxylog available online as well as with a real one in resus.

For some more on how to "Dominate the Vent", have a look at this handout from Scott Weingart at Emcrit, as well as his 2 part series on the topic. And for the more advanced, here's a recent talk on how to read the ventilator waveforms "like an ECG".

Another resource is Eric Strong's series on Ventilators. If you've not seen his videos before, he also has a good series on ABG interpretation, and many other topics too.


So, how would you rate your knowledge? Do you think this should be a more frequent topic in our teaching sessions? Do you have any ventilator tips and tricks?

Share your thoughts