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Intensive Care

Why are some patients admitted to Intensive Care with COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory condition, which means that some patients will need specialist support with their breathing e.g. using a tight-fitting face mask (called CPAP) or a ventilator (breathing machine or life support machine). The virus affects many other organs, however, and some patients will need support with their blood pressure (with drugs or specialist equipment) or their kidneys (with a kidney machine). Some patients will be admitted to Intensive Care as a precaution, as we know that some patients can deteriorate quite quickly. The Intensive Care Unit is the safest place to look after these patients, as it has high numbers of highly skilled and staff who are very experienced in the use of this specialist support. 

Visits from family members are not allowed at this time

This is to protect family members from picking up COVID-19. We know that this will be very upsetting to patients and families.The staff will work very hard to make sure that families are kept up to date by phone. Many Intensive Care Units are using online or "virtual" visiting, which means that family members can see their loved ones, using mobile phones or tablets, and speak to them if they are awake. In this section, we’ve provided some general information on common equipment and treatments, including how and why they’re used. We’ve also provided some information on routine care, the staff who work in Intensive Care and the sorts of things they will have done to help you.

 

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Web Link: Delirium (confusion, strange dreams & memories) in ICU: a video

This link will take to you a video or webinar on delirium (feeling confused or having strange dreams or memories) in ICU. The video is hosted by ICUsteps, the UK's ICU patient-led charity. You can find their website here:ICUsteps In it, the group discuss delirium, patients' experience of it, and simple things that can be done to help. They also discuss recovery from delirium after discharge home, how family members can help, and psychological support that is available. The video is...

Article: Diaries in Intensive Care (family information)

What is a diary? A diary is a booklet written for patients about their time in Intensive Care. Some Intensive Care Units use patient diaries and some don’t. They’ve been used for a number of years in other countries, but are only just beginning to be used in the UK. More research is needed to find out if and how they help. Why might (some) patients find a diary helpful? Patients often can’t remember how they ended up in Intensive Care, or what happened while they were...

Article: Diaries in Intensive Care (patient information)

What is a diary? A diary is a booklet written for patients about their time in Intensive Care.  Some Intensive Care Units use patient diaries and some don’t. They’ve been used for a number of years in other countries, but are only just beginning to be used in the UK. More research is needed to find out if and how they help. Why might (some) patients find a diary helpful? You might not be able to remember what happened to you in Intensive Care, or have strange dreams or memories...

Web Link: Diaries: other people's experiences

This link will take you to the Healthtalkonline website and their page on the use of diaries in Intensive Care. Here, you can watch short videos and listen to voice files on other people's experiences of keeping a diary for their loved one.

Article: Drips, tubes and lines (cannulas)

What are drips, lines and cannulas? They are sterile plastic catheters that are inserted directly into the patient’s blood vessels. Peripheral line: a small sterile plastic cannula inserted into the small veins in the hand or arms. It is used to give intravenous fluids and medications. Arterial line (or "A line"): a sterile cannula inserted into an artery (usually in the wrist or groin) to allow accurate,continuous measurement of the blood pressure. We can also take...

Article: ECMO

What is ECMO? ECMO stands for Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation. It's similar the heart-lung bypass machine that's used during heart surgery. It's been used in the UK since the 1990's, for Intensive Care patients with the most severe cardiac (heart) and respiratory (breathing) conditions. It's a highly specialist and resource-intensive treatment that is only available in a few UK ICUs. It is only suitable for some of the very sickest patients with COVID-19. How...

Web Link: End of life decisions

Sadly, some patients don't survive Intensive Care.In some cases, incredibly difficult decisions have to be made about whether it's in the patient's best interests to continue treatment, when it seems certain that their condition won't improve.We're so sorry, if this is the case for you.It might help to hear about other people's experiences about making these types of decisions, both within the family and with the medical staff on Intensive Care. This link will...

Web Link: Equipment: a simple guide from the Intensive Care Society

This link will take you to a really simple guide on common ICU equipment, from the Intensive Care Society

Article: Fluids and medications

Fluids When patients are connected to a ventilator or breathing machine, they are unable to drink normally. Fluids are therefore given directly into the bloodstream via drips or lines.The nurses carefully monitor and record how much fluid the patient receives along with the patient's vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure,etc), daily blood tests and how much urine they pass to make sure that he or she is receiving the right amount of fluids. Medication Medication can...

External Video: George's experience of Intensive Care

In this video, George talks about his experiences of being a patient in Intensive Care following an operation.You can read interviews,listen to voice recordings and watch clips of other patients' experiences of Intensive Care by using the link to a free website called Healthtalkonline. http://healthtalkonline.org/search/all/intensive%20care