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Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia - FAQ

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It is the goal of Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughter’s Health System (CHKDHS) to provide the best possible care for your family. Please read this information to learn about how you can help us prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia.

What is ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. A ventilator is a machine that helps people breathe by giving oxygen through a tube. The tube can be placed in the patient’s mouth, nose or through a surgically created hole in the front of the neck (tracheostomy). The tube is connected to a ventilator. Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a lung infection that develops in a person who is on a ventilator.

Although a ventilator can be life-saving, it can increase a patient’s risk of getting an infection because germs can enter the lungs through or alongside the tube.

Why does my child need a ventilator?

If your child is very ill he may need a ventilator to help him breathe. Patients who have surgery may need a ventilator during and after surgery.

What is CHKDHS doing to prevent VAP?

  • We keep the head of your child’s bed raised unless he has a medical condition that does not allow us to raise the head of the bed.  
    • Transitional Care Unit Patients: If your child has a tracheostomy and is able to be off the ventilator and move around for part of the day the head of his bed does not need to be elevated while he is awake. The head of the bed will be elevated when your child is asleep and on the ventilator
  • We check your child’s ability to breathe on his own every day so your child can be taken off the ventilator as soon as possible.
  • We clean our hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after we touch your child or the ventilator.
  • We clean the inside of your child’s mouth frequently.
  • We clean or replace equipment between different patients.

What can I do to help prevent VAP?

  • Ask the nurse to raise the head of your child’s bed to 30º to 45º.
  • Ask the physician when your child will be allowed to come off the ventilator and breathe on his own.
  • Ask everyone who cares for your child or visits him to clean their hands.
  • Ask how often your child’s healthcare providers are cleaning his mouth.
  • If you are an adolescent who smokes, quit. Patients who smoke get more infections. Ask your doctor about how you can quit smoking. This is especially important if you are going to have surgery and will need to be on a ventilator.

Can VAP be treated?

VAP can be a very serious infection. Usually VAP can be treated with antibiotics. If your child develops VAP, your physician will choose the best antibiotic to treat the specific germs which are causing the infection.

Please talk to your child’s physician or nurse if you have questions.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 08/2014

(757) 668-7000