The nurse is caring for a client who is intubated and on the ventilator. The client is alert but cannot talk while intubated. Which method of communication would be the best choice for this client?

  • a clipboard with pen and paper
  • a picture board that the client could point to
  • asking the client to mouth words while a family member interprets the meaning
  • telling the client to blink once for yes and twice for no while asking close-ended questions
Number 2 is correct.
A picture board has pictures of common client needs while in the hospital. Pointing to a picture of a toilet or a pained face requires the least effort on the client’s part. A clipboard with pen and paper is not the best choice because it is difficult to write lying down while trying to hold a clipboard firmly. Some clients may use one, but often the handwriting is illegible, leading to frustration for the client when the request can’t be read. The client will not be able to mouth words properly while intubated, and involving the family in a guessing game is nonproductive and can increase frustration. Asking the client to blink to indicate answers is ineffective communication because the client may be tired or unable to blink on demand.