In the hospital environment, patients can deteriorate rapidly and for many different reasons. Maintaining a patient's breathing is the main priority in any emergency situation, although achieving airway control can be difficult. All health professionals need to be able to undertake airway management safely. The key is a thorough assessment to ensure first of all whether the airway is patent (open and clear) or not. This article will discuss airway management, both acute and chronic, as well as associated nursing care.