Getting extubated is to an ICU patient as an owner returning from vacation is to a pet in a kennel. It’s the best part of their stay away from home! Extubating is easy and exciting. When a patient has been breathing through the tube down their throat that is open to just supplemental oxygen, and not the mechanical assistance of the vent, you go into the room, take the tape off their face, deflate the balloon, and gently pull the tube out as the exhale. Then you have to sucion up all the junk they try to cough up. After extubation, critical patients become real people again instead of sets of numbers. If they do well, they can leave the Intensive Care Unit, which is good for us (fewer patients) and good for them (a big psychological step forward!). Just thought you’d like to know how to get extubated.

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