Tracheostomy care and communication during COVID-19: Global interprofessional perspectives.

WB Saunders
Publication Type:
Journal Article
American Journal of Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery, 2022, 43, (2), pp. 1-8
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
OBJECTIVE: Investigate healthcare providers, caregivers, and patient perspectives on tracheostomy care barriers during COVID-19. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional anonymous survey SETTING: Global Tracheostomy Collaborative Learning Community METHODS: A 17-item questionnaire was electronically distributed, assessing demographic and occupational data; challenges in ten domains of tracheostomy care; and perceptions regarding knowledge and preparedness for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. RESULTS: Respondents (n = 115) were from 20 countries, consisting of patients/caregivers (10.4%) and healthcare professionals (87.0%), including primarily otolaryngologists (20.9%), nurses (24.3%), speech-language pathologists (18.3%), respiratory therapists (11.3%), and other physicians (12.2%). The most common tracheostomy care problem was inability to communicate (33.9%), followed by mucus plugging and wound care. Need for information on how to manage cuffs and initiate speech trials was rated highly by most respondents, along with other technical and knowledge areas. Access to care and disposable supplies were also prominent concerns, reflecting competition between community needs for routine tracheostomy supplies and shortages in intensive care units. Integrated teamwork was reported in 40 to 67% of respondents, depending on geography. Forty percent of respondents reported concern regarding personal protective equipment (PPE), and 70% emphasized proper PPE use. CONCLUSION: While safety concerns, centering on personal protective equipment and pandemic resources are prominent concerns in COVID-19 tracheostomy care, patient-centered concerns must also be prioritized. Communication and speech, adequate supplies, and care standards are critical considerations in tracheostomy. Stakeholders in tracheostomy care can partner to identify creative solutions for delays in restoring communication, supply disruptions, and reduced access to tracheostomy care in both inpatient and community settings.
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