VentilatorA patient presents with severe multilobar pneumonia and refractory hypoxia requiring endotracheal intubation. The respiratory therapist connects your patient to the ventilator.

“What settings would you like your patient on?”

Back in 2010, Dr. Scott Weingart posted a great podcast on “Dominating the Vent“. It’s such a fantastic distillation of the practical aspect of ventilator setting management of all intubated patients except those with an acute asthma or COPD exacerbation, Dr. Jenny Wilson and I thought this would be a great Paucis Verbis card to have in your peripheral brain.

Note: The tidal volume should be calculated based on Predicted Body Weight (PBW), which is based on patient gender and height. The calculation is at the bottom of the card. Using a patient’s actual weight might yield a tidal volume that is way too high. The initial vent settings in the example box are for a patient with a PBW of 70 kg. That’s basically a 5’9″ man or 5’11” woman.

PV Card: Ventilator Settings for Lung Protection

Adapted from [1] See ALiEM (PV) cards.

Thanks to Dr. Jenny Wilson for the idea and writing this card, and Dr. Scott Weingart for a great podcast as always.


  1. Ventilation with lower tidal volumes as compared with traditional tidal volumes for acute lung injury and the acute respiratory distress syndrome. The Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Network. N Engl J Med. 2000;342(18):1301-1308. [PubMed]
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD