Maximizing Fidelity

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Simulated Functioning Chest Tube
by Mary Ann Cordeau - Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 11:39 AM

I have found a way to simulate a functioning chest tube

Equipment Needed:

Mannequin on bed, Mechanical ventilator, compressed air, pleural drainage system, 2 straight connectors, simulaton blood, tape

1. Place the mechanical ventilator near the bed supporting the mannequin. Connect the ventilator to the compressed air source. Create an air occlusive closed circuit by connecting the Y tubing from the mechanical ventilator (tubing that normally connects to the client's endotrachial tube) to the flexible tubing that connects the pleural drainage system to the chest tube (a chest tube is not used for this simulation).  Tape all connections and cover any large openings the the pleural drainage system.  Place the pleural drainage system at the bedside. Fill with water as instructed by the pleural drainage system manufacturer. You can also simulate drainage in the collection chamber.

2. Run the closed circuit tubing from the mechanical ventilator towards the head of the bed and place under the pillow and back of the mannequin near the arm. Tape the closed circuit tubing in place at the site of the chest tube insertion area and cover with a dressing to simulate the chest tube in place.

3. Turn on the ventilator, set the desired respiratory rate and tidal volume.  As the ventilator begins to push air into the pleural drainage system, you will observe bubbles and hear a bubbling sound with each breath it delivers.  

Please email me with any questions, a photo of the system can be sent via email.  Submitted by Mary Ann Cordeau, PhD, RN 

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Re: Simulated Functioning Chest Tube
by durcilla williams - Friday, March 20, 2009, 3:29 AM

Ann Cordeau

I would love to see this WORKING chest tube in action.  We are just one year into our Simulation lab as of January 2008 and would like to crate a more REALISTIC chest tube set up.  We installed the actual wall suction unites that actually suction and could utilze them for the chest tube to get the water to flunctuate in the chest drainage sets.

Durilla Wiliams, MSN RN

Odessa College, Odessa, TX

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Re: Simulated Functioning Chest Tube
by Wanda reitz - Thursday, April 8, 2010, 11:27 AM

Hi Mary Ann,

I would like your picture of the chest tube simulation e-mailed to me.  This is a great idea.  Please send to:


Wanda Reitz