After CNA Training: Pulmonary Aspiration Prevention

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When you take CNA training, you will be taught many skills and duties you will use to perform the various tasks that are required of you when you find employment and begin caring for patients. During this time, you will be taught how to prevent pulmonary aspiration in your patients.


Pulmonary aspiration occurs when foreign materials or secretions enter the lungs. These materials are generally blood, mucous, food, fluids, vomit, and any other material shouldn’t be in the lungs. Often times, these materials enter the lungs through the throat when patients breathe. If a patient is conscious, this can often be resolved easily by coughing. If the coughing is forceful enough, the foreign materials will generally be pushed out of the lungs.


However, you will learn while you are in CNA training that patients who are unable to force these materials from their lungs can suffer from serious complications, like:


  • Abscess


  • Aspiration Pneumonia


  • Obstructed Airways


  • Death


Patients At Risk for Aspiration After CNA Training


After CNA training, you can prevent pulmonary aspiration in your patients by paying close attention to the condition of your patients at all times, especially if they are at high risk. Patients who are at high risk for aspiration include:


  • Patients that are currently eating

  • Patients who are currently vomiting


  • Patients that are bleeding from their mouth and face


  • Patients who have illnesses or conditions that create a lot of mucous or fluid secretions near or in their airway


When you are with these patients after CNA training and they are at risk for aspiration, make sure you are paying attention to them. Don’t talk to other CNAs or use your phone. Avoid any distractions that could prevent you from reacting quickly if a foreign material enters your patient’s lungs.


Preventing Aspiration After CNA Training


In most cases, a patient’s lungs are protected from pulmonary aspiration by protective reflexes in the body, such as coughing and swallowing. However, for some patients after CNA training, these reflexes are not always enough to prevent aspiration from occurring. Patients who are unconscious or who have certain injuries or illnesses can still suffer from aspiration if you do not follow these patient-care procedures after CNA training.


  • When you are patients are eating, make sure they are positioned in the upright position.


  • If you are caring for patients who are suffering from conditions that create a large amount of mucous or secretions, make sure to check the patients frequently.


  • If your patient is bleeding from the mouth or face or is vomiting, make sure they are positioned correctly in their bed. Those who can not move freely by themselves and can not turn by themselves should be positioned on their sides so they do not accidentally aspirate on the foreign materials. Once placed on their side, you should check back on them often to ensure they remain in the position.


When you are caring for patients, make sure you monitor them closely and do whatever you can to prevent pulmonary aspiration after CNA training.

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