Nurses have been left without the appropriate training to care for patients who have undergone tracheostomies, potentially putting lives at risk, according to a report.

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) report highlighted a range of concerns based on data from hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The report emphasised the importance of the role of nurses in the ongoing care of tracheostomy patients, but revealed that only 28% of hospitals trained staff to deal with a blocked or dislodged tracheostomy airway, one of the most common tracheostomy-related complications.

A tracheostomy is used to help wean patients off ventilators and help them in the transition from critical care to general wards. Around 12,000 procedures are carried out each year.

The report also questioned the choice of tubes used for some patients, recommending that hospitals should stock a variety of sizes to ensure the most appropriate tube is used that best suits the patient’s anatomy.

Linda Millband, joint national head of the clinical negligence team based in Thompsons’ Birmingham office, commented: “This report is invaluable in highlighting an area that clearly needs a great deal of improvement if patient safety is to be protected.

“Hospital services and the environment in which many nurses work is continually stretched to the limit. While this is obviously not an excuse for mistakes, it is vital that staff receive adequate training to face the often pressured situations they find themselves in. It is, frankly, alarming that this is not already happening, and action must be taken to improve the current situation.”

Click here to read the full report ‘Tracheostomy Care: On the Right Trach?’.