6 Mechanical Ventilation Nursing Care Plans


Mechanical ventilation can partially or fully replace spontaneous breathing. Its main purpose is to improved gas exchange and decreased work of breathing by delivering preset concentrations of oxygen at an adequate tidal volume. An artificial airway (endotracheal tube) or tracheostomy is needed to a client requiring mechanical ventilation. This therapy is used most often in clients with hypoxemia and alveolar hypoventilation. Although the mechanical ventilator will facilitate movement of gases into and out of the pulmonary system, it cannot guarantee gas exchange at the pulmonary and tissue levels. Caring for a client on mechanical ventilation has become an indispensable part of nursing care in critical care or general medical-surgical units, rehabilitation facilities, and the home care settings. Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a significant nosocomial infection that is associated with endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation.

Nursing Care Plans

The major goals for a client receiving mechanical ventilation include improvement of gas exchange, maintenance of a patent airway, prevention of trauma, promoting optimal communication,  minimizing anxiety, and absence of cardiac and pulmonary complications.

Here are six (6) nursing care plans (NCP) and nursing diagnosis (NDx) for patients who are under mechanical ventilation: 

  1. Impaired Spontaneous Ventilation
  2. Ineffective Airway Clearance
  3. Anxiety
  4. Deficient Knowledge
  5. Risk for Ineffective Protection
  6. Risk for Decreased Cardiac Output

Risk for Decreased Cardiac Output

Nursing Diagnosis


May be related to

  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Positive-pressure ventilation

Possibly evidenced by

  • [not applicable]

Desired Outcomes

  • Client will maintain adequate cardiac output, as evidenced by systolic BP within 20 mm Hg of baseline; HR to 60 to 100 beats per minute with regular rhythm; strong peripheral pulses; urine output greater than 30 ml/hour, warm, and dry skin; and normal level of consciousness.
Nursing InterventionsRationale
Assess the client’s level of consciousness, blood pressure, heart rate, and hemodynamic parameters if in place (central venous pressure, pulmonary artery diastolic pressure (PADP), and pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, cardiac output).Mechanical ventilation can produce a decreased venous return to the heart, resulting in decreased BP, compensatory increased heart rate, and decreased cardiac output. This may happen abruptly with ventilator changes: rate, tidal volume, or positive-pressure ventilation. The level of consciousness will decrease if cardiac output is severely compromised. Therefore close monitoring during ventilator changes is imperative.
Assess the capillary refill, skin temperature, and peripheral pulses.Pulses are weak with reduced stroke volume and cardiac output. Capillary refill is slow with reduced cardiac output. Cold, pale, clammy skin is secondary to compensatory sympathetic nervous system stimulation and associated with low cardiac output and oxygen desaturation.
Monitor for dysrhythmias.Cardiac dysrhythmias may result from the low perfusion state, acidosis, or hypoxia.
Monitor fluid balance and urine output.Optimal hydration status is needed to maintain effective circulating blood volume and counteract the ventilatory effects on cardiac output. With positive pressure ventilation, pressure from the diaphragm decreases blood flow to the kidneys and could result in a drop in urine output. The brain is very sensitive to a decrease in blood flow and may respond by releasing antidiuretic hormone (ADH) (to increase water and sodium retention), further reducing urine output. After the initial decrease in venous return to the heart, volume receptors in the right atrium signal a decrease in volume, which triggers an increase in the release of ADH from the posterior pituitary and retention of water by the kidneys.
Notify the physician immediately of signs of a decrease in cardiac output, and anticipate possible ventilator setting changes.Vigilant monitoring reduces the risk for complications. Hypotension and decreased cardiac output may be related to positive-pressure ventilator itself or use of positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) mode.
Maintain an optimal fluid balance.Volume therapy may be required to maintain adequate filling pressures and optimize cardiac output. However, if PADP and/or pulmonary capillary wedge pressure rises and cardiac output remains low, fluid restriction may be necessary.
Administer medications as ordered (diuretics, inotropic agents).Diuretics may be useful to maintain fluid balance if fluid retention is a problem. Inotropic agents may be useful to increase cardiac output.


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See Also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

Other nursing care plans related to respiratory system disorders:

Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.