Respiratory Failure

Kindred Hospitals specialize in offering treatment for pulmonary conditions such as respiratory failure. We are a leading provider in the field of quality respiratory care through our long-term acute care hospitals. You or your loved one can turn to Kindred for our ability to create and execute an expert respiratory-failure care plan that delivers positive outcomes.

Respiratory failure occurs in two different forms: acute and chronic. Acute respiratory failure comes on quite quickly and typically involves emergency medical treatment or intensive care. Chronic respiratory failure develops at a slower pace and can last much longer. No matter what type of respiratory failure you or your loved one might have, Kindred Hospitals are ready to assist on the road to recovery.

Our hospitals take an interdisciplinary team approach to respiratory care, with a team that includes respiratory therapists who are licensed practitioners and experienced in managing acute and chronic respiratory diseases.

What Causes Respiratory Failure?

If you or a loved one is suffering from respiratory failure, you may have lots of questions about the condition, what caused it to happen, and what the long-term effects may be.

In order to fully comprehend respiratory failure, it is important to understand the various diseases of the respiratory system and their causes. These diseases negatively affect a person’s breathing and can happen in a variety of ways, such as by affecting the muscles, nerves, tissues or bones that support the breathing process.

The following conditions, among other respiratory diseases, can potentially cause respiratory failure:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Spinal cord or lung injuries
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumonia
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Stroke
  • Scoliosis (a curve in the spine)
  • Alcohol or drug overdose

It is vital that the body’s organs (heart, brain, liver, etc.) have oxygen-rich blood in order for the body to work properly. When oxygen is not passing from the lungs into the blood, respiratory failure occurs. It can also occur when the lungs aren’t removing carbon dioxide from the blood, leaving a buildup that can damage the body’s organs. Unfortunately, it is possible for both of these problems — a low oxygen level and a high carbon dioxide level — to happen at the same time.

The respiratory therapists at Kindred provide a wide range of care to patients with complex respiratory disorders. They add value and expertise to the interdisciplinary team through the development, utilization and implementation of high clinical practices and standards.

How can you recognize respiratory system failure symptoms?

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, you may have respiratory failure:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Bluish color in the lips, skin and fingernails
  • Low oxygen levels
  • High carbon dioxide levels
  • Sleepiness or loss of consciousness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Air hunger (feeling like you can’t breathe in enough air)
  • Arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats

These symptoms are also similar to those of other illnesses that affect the respiratory system. If you are experiencing any of the above it is important to contact a medical professional to get an accurate medical diagnosis.

Respiratory System Complications

Unfortunately, acute respiratory failure can often be fatal. However, early diagnosis, as well as aggressive and preventative treatment of complications, can improve survival rates.

The following complications commonly occur with respiratory failure:

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Fibrosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Barotrauma
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
  • Renal failure
  • Infection
  • Thrombocytopenia

In order to treat respiratory failure and its complications, catheters, tracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation may be considered. The main goal of treating respiratory failure is to get oxygen to the lungs and organs and remove carbon dioxide from the body. Treating the underlying causes is also extremely important to support recovery.

Respiratory Failure Outcomes and Successes

At Kindred Hospitals, our staff offers quality respiratory care, including physical rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, ventilator support and medication.

“Kindred Hospitals are recognized for our expertise in the management of pulmonary disease,” says Bailey. “Our interdisciplinary approach is an integral part of that management and of the successful outcomes achieved through specialized programs such as ventilator and airway management, respiratory protocols, pulmonary conditioning and weaning.”

Apart from the physical indications, emotional issues can also arise from respiratory failure. Anxiety, depression and stress are all common effects of the condition. To help you or your loved one recover as fully as possible, Kindred’s respiratory failure care plan includes support for potential emotional complications as well as the physical symptoms.

Kindred’s respiratory and pulmonary care plans are founded on evidence-based standard protocols, including medication delivery and infection prevention.

Success Spotlight: Arthur's Story

Arthur lives at home with his wife and began experiencing difficulty breathing earlier this year, along with pronounced weakness and other worrying symptoms. At the general hospital where he was admitted, Arthur was diagnosed with COVID-19, and as his condition deteriorated he had to be placed on a ventilator when he developed acute respiratory failure and pneumonia. He remained at the facility until he was finally able to be stabilized and then transferred to Kindred Hospital, where Arthur would be able to receive advanced respiratory therapy and rehabilitation.

During the first three weeks of his stay at Kindred, Arthur was unresponsive and still in a very delicate stage of recovery. He was monitored daily and cared for by his team of caregivers and finally began to show signs of recovery almost a month into his stay. As his awareness and mental faculties improved, Arthur started to make gains with his respiratory therapists, who worked hard to strengthen his lungs and reduce his dependence on the ventilator. He then finally reached a major milestone when he was able to be taken off the ventilator entirely. His speech therapist helped Arthur to recover his voice once the breathing tube was removed and cleared him to swallow safely, allowing him to begin to drink and eat a simple diet. And in the rehab gym Arthur was coached by his physical and occupational therapists to recover his strength, mobility and independence. By the time he was discharged from Kindred to continue with his rehab, Arthur was able to get up from bed, transfer to a wheelchair and begin to take care of his daily needs once again.

Shortly after his discharge, Arthur dropped by the facility to say hello to his caregivers and share his progress. “I still can’t believe that I beat COVID,” Arthur said. “I am very glad my toes have healed so well because I was worried that I was was going to lose them – thank you all! Now my biggest dream is getting back on the golf course.”