Understanding Noninvasive Ventilation

Nancy M. Steffan, PhD, RN, CRNP, CCRN


Am Nurs Journal. 2021;16(4) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Prompt delivery of supplemental oxygen that's tailored to the needs of the individual is essential to decrease morbidity and mortality and improve patient outcomes. Knowledgeable and experienced bedside nurses are vital for providing safe, effective oxygen therapy.

Oxygen can be delivered invasively or noninvasively. Noninvasive ventilation (NIV) delivers ventilatory support without an artificial airway (endotracheal or tracheostomy tube) to patients who can breathe spontaneously. NIV benefits include keeping the upper airway intact, preserving natural airway defenses, self-expectorating secretions, and allowing the patient to eat, drink, and communicate verbally.

This article outlines the pathophysiology of oxygenation; describes the clinical indications, advantages, and limitations of NIV; explains the modes of oxygen delivery, flow rates, and interfaces; and details the nursing care necessary to maximize success. (See Oxygenation basics.)