What is ICU? (Intensive Care Unit)?
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a unit in the hospital where seriously ill patients are cared for by specially trained staff. The ICU staff includes doctors, nurses, clinical nurse specialists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, nurse practitioners, nurse assistants and dietitians.
Care in the ICU differs from other hospital units.
Seriously ill patients require close observation and monitoring. Specially trained nurses care for one or two patients at a time, each shift. ICU doctors are specially trained critical care doctors.
Patients may have special equipment in their room, depending on their unique situation and condition. The equipment in the ICU may seem overwhelming. Patients are connected to machines to monitor their heart, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Ventilators (breathing machines) assist some patients with breathing until they are able to breathe on their own.
Why Are Patients Admitted to the ICU?
Patients are admitted to the ICU for a variety of reasons. Some patients need close monitoring immediately after a major surgical operation or serious head injury. Others may have problems with their lungs that require ventilator support with breathing. Patients may have heart and blood vessel problems (for example, very low or very high blood pressure, a heart attack, or an unstable heart rhythm) needing observation. Patients in the ICU may have an imbalance in the level of chemicals, salts, or minerals in their bloodstream that require close monitoring as these levels are corrected. Also, patients may have a serious infection in their bodies that require specialized ICU care.
What Can I Expect in the ICU?
You can expect that the ICU staff will keep you well-informed of any major changes in the patient’s condition or procedures that are being performed. You can expect to speak with a doctor on a regular basis. Members of the ICU team meet with the patient and/or family to ensure that everyone has a common understanding of the health condition and the plan of care. During this meeting, it is a good time for family members to ask any questions of the health care team.
Visiting Guidelines for the ICU
We request that visitors be limited to two at one time for patients in the ICU. You are advised to stay inside the patient’s room during your visit. If you are asked to wait outside of the patient room, please return to the waiting area out of respect for other patient’s privacy.
Visitors will be asked by the ICU staff to leave for short periods during doctor’s rounds, nurses’ report, certain procedures, and emergencies.
Doctor’s Rounds: Doctor’s rounds usually occur during the morning, early evening, and at midnight. Due to patient privacy issues and the close proximity of our patient rooms to each other, visitors will be asked to leave the unit occasionally when doctor’s are rounding on their patients or the patients on either side of the patient they are visiting. Visiting may resume once the team is at least two doors away from the patient.
Visitors are asked not to visit when they have potentially infectious conditions (for example: respiratory infections – “colds”).