ICU Patient Journey
Patients can be admitted to the ICU from the Emergency department after an accident or sudden onset of illness in the community, or via the operating theatre for a planned admission or after emergency surgery.
When a patient arrives in the ICU they will be cared for collaboratively by a team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and allied health (physiotherapy, nutrition, social work and more). You will receive communication from the Intensive Care team, as discussed in the “Communication with Family”.
Blood tests and X-Rays are often performed, and sometimes a blood transfusion will be needed urgently. Depending on how unwell the patient is, potentially lifesaving invasive treatments may need to begin immediately. Wherever possible the doctors will talk to a patient or their loved ones about a procedure, but if it is urgent and lifesaving it will be done if the doctors think that this is what anyone else would want done in the same situation. This website contains information about many of these procedures.
Patients will often be sedated and the bedside nurse will adjust the sedation to ensure that the patient is comfortable. If a breathing tube has been inserted, the bedside nurse will need to suction secretions from the lungs with a soft, flexible tube. This can be uncomfortable so the nurse may increase the sedation or painkillers first.
Most patients in intensive care need to have a catheter in the bladder to measure how much urine they are making. Patients will also need to be turned every few hours to prevent bedsores from forming.
Most patients are given medications to try to prevent common complications or being seriously unwell. A low dose blood thinner with be given to prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs and an anti-acid medication will be given to prevent stomach ulcers. Most patients will be on a continuous infusion (drip) of a sedative and a painkiller. These are very closely monitored by the bedside nurse. Patients will also often be on an infusion of a medicine to increase the blood pressure.
Many patients will be fed a high energy, high protein feeding solution via a tube from the nose into the stomach. If the patient is unable to tolerate the feed (usually because of surgery on the gut, or temporary gut failure from being very unwell) they will receive a similar nutrition solution intravenously.
Your medical and nursing team will be able to provide you with this information and any updates to your loved one’s condition.
As your loved ones condition improves they will be ready for ward discharge, your medical and nursing team will update you when this is due to occur. In most cases they will be transferred to a ward within the Alfred Hospital, but in some cases they may be transferred to another health service with specialty in the area of their injury, or a health service where they were transferred from.
The communication to families will differ on every ward, please touch base with the team on the ward to gain this information.
Please get in contact with the Intensive Care Unit if you have any questions about your loved ones condition.