Certain patients in hospital are at greater risk than others of developing respiratory problems such as pneumonia. Identifying these patients early, instituting preventative measures and identifying the early signs of deterioration can reduce the morbidity associated with respiratory failure.
Patients who have a respiratory arrest normally have a period of deterioration with the patient becoming increasingly fatigued prior to the arrest. Signs of tiring include increasing respiratory rate, using accessory muscles of breathing, sweating, declining tidal volumes, gasping or irregular breathing, paradoxical abdominal movements, confusion, agitation and obtundation. If there are signs of imminent respiratory arrest then it is necessary to assist ventilation with a bag and mask until further help arrives.