Can distilled water be used for suctioning trachs?

  1. I use the pink bullets of sodium chloride to suction the trach now. However, it seems we are always low on these sodium chloride bullet supplies and the company won't send more supplies until the due date. Mom won't pay out of pocket for any supplies. I was just curious if I could use distilled water if we were completely out of supplies? I was thinking I could keep a bottle of distilled water if possible in my car to use in case of no supplies. Thanks.
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    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 3,159; Likes: 1,145
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  3. by   caliotter3
    I would not use distilled water to instill into the trach if normal saline is ordered and I would not keep an open bottle in my car for this purpose. Open anything can only be assumed sterile for short periods of time, usually less than 24 hours. If you want to use distilled water, then see if the doctor will write the order for normal saline or distilled/sterile water.
  4. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks caliotter3. That's right. Once you open a bottle it has to be used within 24 hours. Yes, maybe the doctor would write an order such as may use distilled water if normal saline not available. I am worried that one of these days he might have some very thick secretions with respiratory distress and no water available. I guess in case of a life and death emergency I could use distilled water without a doctor's order.
  5. by   katkonk
    OMG....distilled water is not the same as sterile water! And I would not use sterile water for suctioning a trach. Do you have NS IV bags? If needed in a pinch, you could withdraw NS from a bag and use that.
  6. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks. No I do not have any NS IV bags. I have decided I better cut down greatly on the NS that will be delivered tomorrow. I will be much more careful about using it and hopefully I will never run out of it totally.
  7. by   caliotter3
    If you get the NS in bullet form, take several of them and keep them with your supplies so that you do not run out. Use wisely, empty each bullet before you toss it.
  8. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks. That's a great idea. I will grab some tomorrow and stash them away for emergencies. That would be better than having an emergency and calling 911 and saying "Help. Can you rush over and bring me some normal saline".
  9. by   iwanna
    I can remember years ago when I had a trach, I had a recipe for saline water. The home health nurse gave it to me. It was a lot cheaper than buying it.
  10. by   caliotter3
    The recipe for NS can be found on the internet. I had it one time. Will look for it again. Very easy to make, but if the client is like the client I recommended it to, they only want the "store bought stuff" because "they pay for it".
  11. by   caliotter3
    Found several links on an internet search. This link gives you a nice page that can be printed out to use for a patient handout sheet:
  12. by   nursel56
    What's up with the pink vials of NS in such short supply? I'm finding this to be a difficult thing to keep hold of and both our respiratory company and our pharmacy do not carry them. I had to explain over and over to the brother of one patient that those big jugs of saline are only sterile the first time you open and use it.

    Thanks for the home recipe link. I have boiled water before in home care if I had no bottles of sterile water, Blackcat. When we reuse the suction catheters and rinse the tubing in water more than once it isn't sterile anymore, either.
    Last edit by nursel56 on Aug 3, '10
  13. by   kids
    Quote from caliotter3
    found several links on an internet search. this link gives you a nice page that can be printed out to use for a patient handout sheet:
    i was just about to go looking for that!
    i had several clients back when i was doing peds private duty for who we did home-made ns. it's important the directions be followed exactly.

    we found that the glass bottles with metal caps that ready to feed infant formula came in were perfect for storage as they could be sterilized, probably hard to come by those these days.

    these would be about perfect (bpa free and can be sterilized repeatedly) and a dozen would hold around 32 ounces.
  14. by   Blackcat99
    Thanks all so very much for your advice and NS recipes. Yes, I will check into it and maybe make myself some normal saline for emergencies.

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