Children with new tracheostomies: planning for family education and common impediments to discharge

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2008 Aug;43(8):788-94. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20867.


Objectives: To describe an educational program and timeline for the discharge of children with a new tracheostomy and identify common impediments to the education and discharge process.

Methods: Retrospective pilot case series of 70 children and adolescents undergoing tracheostomy placement over a 24-month period in a large urban academic pediatric hospital.

Results: Eleven healthcare providers with expertise with technology dependent children identified the eight most common impediments to education and discharge for children with new tracheostomies. Length of stay, impediments to both education and discharge, and medical equipment needed at the time of discharge were extracted from hospital records. Caregivers of children with new tracheostomies needed a median of 14 days (range 5-110 days) to successfully complete a tracheostomy education program. Discharge occurred a median of 6.5 days (range 0-71 days) after education was completed. Common impediments to completing the education program included social issues (e.g., lack of sibling childcare), inter-current illness of the patient and/or language barriers. Impediments to discharge included patient's inter-current illnesses, social issues (e.g., lack of running water) and unavailability of home nursing. Our cohort of patients had a total median length of stay (LOS) of 46 days. At discharge, 55% of children required two or more medical devices (in addition to their tracheostomy) and 61% had some level of dependency on positive pressure ventilation.

Conclusions: Pediatric patients with a new tracheostomy undergo lengthy initial hospitalizations and have complex educational and discharge needs. Multiple factors (both medical and social) can impede the child's transition to the outpatient setting. A structured education and discharge program may result in a shorter LOS for children with new tracheostomies. Impediments to family education and discharge should be anticipated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay*
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Tracheostomy*