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Specializes in ICU, Med-Surg, Neuro, Education. Has 9 years experience.

Sorry if this has been posted before, I tried searching but couldn't find anything.

I'm having some confusion over CPAP and BIPAP, specifically in regards to ordering and ventilation. On our ventilated patients, if they are on CPAP trial they are generally on something like 5/5. If we have to increase them to 8/5 is this now considered "bipap?" Our vents do not ever said "bipap" on them, only cpap for the mode. Does this have to do with the invasive nature of this ventilation? Is NIV CPAP always the same epap and ipap setting? I may be having some confusion because I've only ever learned on one type of NIV machine or vent machine at our hospital. Can someone still be using CPAP mode but with setting of 10/8 for example?

Sorry if this is confusing!! I understand continuous pressure vs biphasic. Just confused about settings and ordering


Specializes in Nurse Anesthesiology. Has 16 years experience.

So an easy way to think of CPAP when you're looking at a ventilator is CPAP=PEEP.  CPAP is just continuous positive airway pressure that is always there so if you set it to 5 it will always give that pressure of 5 continuous during inspiration and expiration.

BiPap is CPAP but you are adding Pressure Support (PS) during inspiration. So if you have the patient on 5/5 or a setting of 8/5 when the patient initiates a breath it will assist that inspiratory breath with a pressure support of 5 or 8, depending on what you set it at.  Technically you are still using Bipap if it is set to 5/5.  Anytime you add that PS to the vent or machine you are now in a Pressure Support mode which can also be called Bipap.