A client in ICU has a chest tube, and the nurse is assessing the chest tube drainage system. The nurse notices intermittent bubbling in the water seal chamber. What action should the nurse take?

  • clamp the chest tube and call for help
  • document the findings in the client chart
  • document an air leak and notify the physician
  • call the physician to report the findings
Number 2 is correct.
Intermittent bubbling in the water seal chamber is an expected finding that indicates the system is working correctly and that air is being successfully removed from the pleural space. The nurse should document and reassess again later. Constant bubbling is indicative of an air leak, and the nurse would immediately report this to the physician so it can be corrected.