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Intensive Care

Not remembering what happened to you is very common

We know from other patients that their memory of Intensive Care can often be hazy or “jumbled”. It can be difficult to piece together what happened in the days and hours before being admitted and what happened while you were there. Some people remember only the end of their time in Intensive Care, while others remember almost nothing at all.

Some people are very glad not to remember very much, while for others, "not knowing" can be upsetting.It's entirely up to you whether or not you'd like to find out more about what happens in Intensive Care.Some people find that they are only ready to find out more in the weeks, months and sometimes years after they get home.

Having strange dreams or nightmares is very common

It's extremely common to have strange and sometimes very frightening dreams or hallucinations (sometimes called "delirium"). They can seem so real that it can be difficult to work out whether they actually happened or not. Making sense of your time in Intensive Care can therefore be difficult. In this section, we've provided examples of other people's experiences, including easy to use links to other websites, where you can watch short video clips or listen to voice recordings from other Intensive Care patients.

Would you like to find out more about what happens in Intensive Care?

Some people find it helpful to "fill in the blanks". Others prefer to put it all behind them. There's no wrong or right, and it's completely up to you whether, when and how you want to find out more. In this section, we’ve provided some information on common equipment and treatments, including how and why they’re used. We’ve also provided some information on routine care, the types of staff involved in your care and the sorts of things they will have done to help you.

 

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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...

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.

External Video: Insight into ICU: Royal Berkshire Hospital

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.

Document: Intensive Care - A guide for patients and families

This is a booklet written by ICUSteps, which is a charity developed by former Intensive Care patients, family members and healthcare staff. It was written by patients and families for patients and families and is very easy to read.

Article: Keeping up to date

Who can I ask about my loved one's condition? The nurse who is looking after your family member will have a very clear understanding of your loved one's condition. She/he will be able to explain things to you in easily understandable language and will be happy to answer any questions you might have. We do understand that visiting a loved one in Intensive Care can be very upsetting and that it can sometimes be difficult to remember what you've been told.Please...

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. What is a kidney machine or filter used for? The filter or kidney machine is a machine that can temporarily take over the work of the kidneys when they are...

Web Link: Letter from an ICU nurse

This link will take you to an online article that was recently posted by an American Intensive Care nurse. In it, she writes an open letter to family members, explaining why we might sometimes appear distant, and why you might sometimes hear us laugh or crack a joke at what seems like the most inappropriate of times. We are sorry if this feels disrespectful to you at such a difficult time. We hope that this letter gives some insight into what's going on behind the scenes.

Article: Looking after yourself

Having a loved one in Intensive Care can be emotionally and physically exhausting. It can be all too easy to forget to take care of yourself. Try to remember, though, that you will need all your strength to help look after your loved one when he/she gets out of hospital. Try to keep to as normal a routine as you can It's completely understandable to feel that you want to "be there", to stay as close to your loved one as possible, either at their bedside, in the...

External Video: Louise describes her critical illness and the process of getting better

In this video clip, Louise a former Intensive Care patient talks about her experiences of critical illness five years on and the process of getting better and getting on with her life. 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

Web Link: Making a complaint (NHS Lothian)

Sadly, sometimes patients and their family members can feel let down by the quality of the care they have received. Patients and family members have the right to have their complaints heard and an explanation provided as to why the quality of care may have not been of sufficient standard. This link gives guidance on how to raise a complaint with any of the services provided by the NHS in Lothian.