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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: ICU unwrapped: a website explaining what happens in ICU

This link will take you to the ICU Unwrapped website, developed by the Intensive Care team at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The website aims to provide short, simple, non-technical explanations of what happens in Intensive Care. The website offers information and frequently asked questions on a huge range of ICU-related issues.

Article: ICU ward rounds

Patients in Intensive Care are reviewed many times a day by the various different staff involved in their care, and continuously by the nurse at the bedside. Medical assessment The medical staff will usually do a full patient assessment at the start of every shift (both day and night shift). This will include things like the patient's vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc), their blood results, X rays, medications and medical notes, among others. ...

Article: Infection control

Why is infection control so important in Intensive Care? Patients who are in Intensive Care are more at risk of getting infections. This is mainly due to patients being so unwell, and because some of the equipment we use can increase the risk of infection.The breathing (or endotracheal) tube, for example, provides essential support, but can increase the risk of lung infection. The lines and drips we use to monitor the patient or give fluids and medications can also increase the...

Web Link: Information leaflets on various conditions

Many people who come into Intensive Care have pre-existing health conditions. Part of your recovery will likely include understanding and dealing with those conditions too.This link will take you to the British Medical Journal's website.There are links to patient information leaflets on a range of conditions. They have been written in clear, easily understandable language.

Article: Infusion pumps

Infusion pumps come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they all do the same thing; they allow us to accurately control the amount of fluids, medication or liquid food we give to the patient. The nurse will normally check each infusion pump every hour to make sure that the correct amount of fluids, medication or liquid food has been given. Pumps have in-built alarms, which let us know if there is a problem e.g. if there is a kink in the tubing or if an infusion is coming to an end.

External Video: Insight into ICU (a short video)

This links to a 20 minute webcast by staff and former patients from the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.It provides some interesting and useful insights into what happens in Intensive Care. Several patients share their experiences of their time there.While we are not currently able to offer some of the services provided in this webcast, we hope you find it useful.

External Article: Intensive Care - What it is and Does

This link will take you to NHS Inform's section on Intensive Care.It provides a general summary of what Intensive Care Units are, what we do, easy to understand explanations of the equipment, and common issues after Intensive Care.

Web Link: Intensive Care - What it is and Does

This link will take you to the NHS Choices website, and their pages on Intensive Care.There is some easily understandable information on what Intensive Care is all about, and what to expect in terms of visiting, treatment and recovery.

Article: Keeping up to date

Who can I ask about my loved one's condition? COVID-19 has meant that hospitals have restricted visiting to protect patients, their family, friends and staff. This means that the way you can communicate with Intensive Care Unit staff has changed. You can no longer communicate face-to-face with the nurses and doctors caring for your loved one, and you can’t visit the Unit. ICUs around the country have set up different systems to communicate with families, depending on how busy...

Article: Kidney machine or "filter"

What is a kidney machine or filter? A kidney machine or filter is a form of kidney or renal support.It is also known as Continuous Veno Venous Haemofiltration (CVVH). We prefer to use this form of support in Intensive Care as it is gentler on the heart and circulation than other forms of kidney or renal support eg dialysis. Many patients with COVID-19 will need support from a kidney machine. What is a kidney machine or filter used for? The filter or kidney machine is a machine that...