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Routine care

In this section, we've provided some information about everyday patient care, including how we wean patients off the ventilator or breathing machine and how we make sure that they are as comfortable as possible (sedation).


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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...

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...

Article: Handover

The nurse will usually start the shift by hearing about the patient's progress since they came into Intensive Care and over the previous shift (handover). She or he will usually carry out a full assessment of the patient by checking their charts (including things like vital signs, blood results and medications), checking that all equipment is working as it should and carrying out a full body assessment (eg checking the patient's skin, including any wounds and dressings and...

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...

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.

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.

Web Link: Medicines explained

This link will take you to an NHS page explaining how 100s of different medications work, what they're for, how to take them and possible side-effects. It's not exhaustive, but we hope you find it helpful. 

Article: Nutritional support

Why is nutrition so important in Intensive Care? Being very ill can increase the rate at which the body uses up energy, which means that patients can lose a lot of weight while they're in Intensive Care.Another common effect of very severe illness is muscle wasting,which can affect things like mobility and result in patients becoming tired very easily. Putting weight back on and regaining muscle can often take some time. It is therefore very important that patients are well fed...

Article: Personal care

Personal care includes things like giving bed baths, mouth care,skin care, moving patients in bed and doing gentle exercises to help keep the patient's joints from becoming stiff.Patients receive a bedbath (a complete body wash in bed) at least once a day and whenever else needed. Mouth care is provided every 2 to 3 hours, using soft moist sponges to clean and moisturise the mouth, and vaseline to stop the lips from cracking.The nurse will also change the position of the...