Q What is the proper procedure for transferring patients with chest tubes?

A Peggy Kirkwood, RN, MSN, CS-ACNP, replies: ______

When moving a patient with a chest tube, there are several things to keep in mind1:

  • ▪ Keep the drainage system lower than the patient’s chest. Raising the collection device could cause back flow of the drainage into the patient or create back pressure and obstruction of flow.

  • ▪ Do not clamp the system, because it may be highly dangerous, potentially converting simple pneumothoraces to life-threatening tension pneumothorax.

  • ▪ Ensure that the water seal remains intact. The water seal allows air or fluid to exit the pleural space while preventing it from being drawn back into the cavity.

  • ▪ Do not tip or drop the collection device. This could disrupt the water seal function.

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