When we’re in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), either as a patient or as the caregiver of a loved one, we’re pretty scared and looking for all the help we can get.
Next time you find yourself headed to an ICU, ask for the Intensivist, or critical care specialist for the unit.
Intensivists are big picture people who review all available information and then develop a diagnosis and course of treatment for the critically ill patient. The plan they devise for the patient may change daily or hourly, because they stay on top of details and adjust the course as new information emerges—an essential element of high quality care.
Intensivists relish thinking outside the box, and their methods work. The survival rate of patients with an Intensivist running the ICU is greater than for those in an ICU without one.
Though qualifications and experience levels vary, these specialists are game-changers and often are the difference between successful and unsuccessful outcomes for critically ill patients.
An Intensivist gets information from many sources, including the patient and the caregiver. If he or she starts asking you questions, don’t leave out even the smallest details. This is NOT the time to keep secrets. You might be asked if your loved one has a substance abuse problem, or if the patient is supplemented with concoctions not on the “official list of medications.” Share everything you know, as it’s impossible to say what might have bearing on the diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
An Intensivist usually has a specific time when he or she makes rounds. If you can manage to be there during that time, it’ll help you become part of the decision-making team.
Some tips for surviving the ICU:
- Try not to be afraid. The sights and sounds in the ICU are intense.
- Use hand sanitizer or soap and water every time you enter and exit the area.
- Don’t be afraid to touch and talk to your loved one. And watch what you say, they can hear you.
- Be considerate of the privacy of others, and obey the rules.
- Ask questions of your doctors and nurses. They have a lot of information to offer.
- Rest when you can. You will be advised if you should NOT go home. Keep a spare change of clothes and toiletries, if the circumstance warrants it. Things can change quickly when someone is in ICU