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J Adv Nurs. 1999 Apr;29(4):928-34.

Normal saline instillation with endotracheal suctioning: primum non nocere (first do no harm).

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  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, The Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland.


Normal saline instillation, in conjunction with endotracheal suctioning, is purported to be beneficial in removing thick and tenacious secretions for patients receiving mechanical ventilation. Guidelines for this routine procedure are inconsistent and its efficacy is unsupported by research-based evidence. This discussion paper highlights that the procedure produces no physiological benefits for the patient and, indeed, may have detrimental effects on the patient's psychological wellbeing. It is proposed that after 25 years of inconsistent practice in trying to remove thick and tenacious secretions, it is time to focus on techniques to prevent thick and tenacious secretions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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