aspiration, risk for

aspiration, risk for

The state in which an individual is at risk for entry of gastric secretions, oropharyngeal secretions, or exogenous food or fluids into tracheobronchial passages due to dysfunction or absence of normal protective mechanisms. Pathological respiratory aspiration is prevented by placing the unconscious patient (or any other patient without a gag reflex) on his or her left side with the head turned laterally. A head-low position protects the airway, prevents silent regurgitation, and promotes evacuation of mucus or vomitus, e.g., by suctioning the nasopharynx as necessary.
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