Mechanical Ventilation Settings

Mechanical ventilation settings can be confusing and difficult to understand. This tool describes the common modes of positive pressure ventilation and the ventilator settings ordered for your patient with respiratory failure or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Key content includes the differences between volume and pressure ventilation, common ventilator modes and settings, ventilator alarms including common causes and nursing interventions, and nursing priorities including information on the handoff report for ventilator settings.

Positive pressure ventilation

  • Volume controlled
  • Pressure controlled

Volume ventilator modes

  • Assist control (AC)
  • Continuous mandatory ventilation (CMV)
  • Synchronized intermittent mandatory ventilation (SIMV)

Pressure ventilator modes

  • Pressure control ventilation (PCV)
  • Pressure control inverse-ratio ventilation (PC-IRV)
  • Positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP)
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • Pressure support ventilation (PSV)

Combined pressure and volume ventilation modes and their advantages

  • Pressure regulated volume control (PRVC)
  • Airway pressure release ventilation (APRV)

Typical ventilator settings the nurse needs be familiar with and include in the handoff report

  • Mode
  • Rate
  • Tidal volume
  • Fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2)
  • PEEP
  • Pressure support (PS)

Common ventilator alarms, causes and nursing interventions

  • Low volume
  • High volume
  • Pressure
  • Apnea
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