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WHAT IS AN INTENSIVE CARE UNIT?
Intensive care medicine is the monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of patients whose life is in danger because of a critical alteration of one or several vital functions.
At the hospital, the intensive care ward is a unit that includes several beds in a clean and highly technical architectural unit.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A RELATIVE IS ADMITTED TO THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT?
During your first visit, we recommend that you come to the hospital’s admissions service (entrance hall, level 0) to check that all the administrative documents of your relative are in order.
We also ask that you retrieve the personal belongings of the patient so that they don’t get lost (valuables, mobile phone, identity documents...)
WHAT HYGIENE MEASURES SHOULD BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT?
It is preferable to disinfect your hands as you enter or leave the patient’s room.
We ask that you refrain from bringing flowers or plants.
In certain cases of declared infection, patients are kept isolated: specific hygiene precautions are then necessary (gloves, a mask or overalls must be worn). These measures aim at preventing the propagation of germs. In this case, a poster is displayed on the door of the room. You should ask the nurses of the unit if you are authorised to enter the room.
WHAT TO BRING?
Personal belongings are not necessary, but you can bring toiletries, i.e. soap or shower gel, shampoo, razor and shaving foam, deodorant, comb or brush, toothbrush and toothpaste, slippers, dressing-gown. Also remember dentures, glasses, hearing aids...
Towels and washcloths are provided by the clinic.
HOW TO BEHAVE TOWARD A RELATIVE HOSPITALISED IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT?
The intensive care environment can be stressful for the patient: disease-related anxiety, pain, noise coming from the electrical equipment, and alarms that go off at any time of the day or night.
Some patients are connected to devices that prevent them from moving or talking, and they are unable to understand why they are in this situation. On the other hand, patients are given many drugs to improve their comfort and help them cope with these difficult circumstances. These drugs may cause various reactions for your relative: aggressiveness, agitation, memory loss, rejection of family members, anxiety, loss of orientation...
Do not be worried, these reactions are temporary and should not prevent you from visiting and interacting with a relative: your presence might be soothing and reassuring to the patient.
WHAT DEVICES ARE USED IN THE INTENSIVE CARE UNIT?
Depending on the situation, your relative may be surrounded by medical devices to which he/she is connected by tubes (called catheters, probes, drains...). This equipment is essential for monitoring and treating patients, and it is often impressive.
Here is a small glossary of frequently used terms:
- Heart monitor
It is a screen similar to a computer screen, located above the patient. All patients hospitalised in the intensive care unit are connected to heart monitors by cables and electrodes (white patches stuck to the chest). The heart monitor continuously records the heart rhythm, the blood pressure, the oxygen levels in the blood and sometimes other parameters.
- A plastic mask
It can be applied over the patient’s face, or a tube can be placed in the patient’s nose. These devices supply oxygen to the patient and do not prevent the patient from speaking normally.
- Pumps and electric syringe drivers
They are used to accurately control the administration of liquids: perfusion, intravenous medication and nutrients. The pumps control the perfusion quantity and speed.
- Gastric tube
This tube is introduced into the stomach through the nose or the mouth and enables either the suction of the content of the stomach, or the administration of liquid nutrients.
- Urinary catheter
This is a flexible tube introduced in the bladder and connected to a pouch. This device is used to collect urine and to measure the quantity thereof.
This is a small rubber sleeve placed on a finger that measures, through the skin, the quantity of oxygen present in the blood.
Other drains enable the evacuation of air, blood, or other liquids.
- The monitor, the breather and the pumps
They are all equipped with highly sensitive alarms that are regularly activated. Their purpose is to warn of any anomaly occurring with a patient, but also to provide information on the actual equipment (end of a perfusion, etc.) When an alarm is triggered, it is immediately analysed by members of the medical staff who then take the appropriate measures.
WHEN CAN THE PATIENT LEAVE THE UNIT?
another hospital unit, or sometimes the patient’s final discharge, can be organised.
You will, of course, be notified of the departure of your relative: we hope that your relative’s stay was a good as it could possibly be, and we wish him/her a prompt recovery.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.