Sputum & Secretions
Sputum analysis is a vital part of patient assessment, and can give important clues to the diagnosis under the care of a licensed physician.
Some patients will be able to describe the sputum, while those intubated may need to have a sputum induction or sample.
Devices like the tonsil tip suction device attached to a canister can help with oral secretions, while a inline or sterile suction catheter is needed help remove secretions from an intubated patient.
When observing a patient or discussing their care, the respiratory therapist must note & document:
The AMOUNT, CONSISTANCY, & COLOR.
Mucoid: Chronic Bronchitis
Yellow: Presence of White Blood Cells or Bacterial Infection
Green: Old or stagnant sputum, Pseudomonas, bronchiectasis
Brown & dark: Old blood, anaerobic lung infection
Bright Red: TB, Bleeding, hemoptysis, lung tumor
Pink Frothy: Pulmonary Edema
Orange (Rusty): Klebsella Pnuemonia
Black: Active smoker, occupational exposure, coal miner’s lung
A sputum culture can be used to identify what pathogen is present.
This test normally takes up to 72 hours.