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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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Article: "I don't remember much about Intensive Care"

It’s extremely common for patients to remember very little of their time in Intensive Care. Sometimes patients “lose” the few days prior to ending up in Intensive Care and may struggle to make sense of how they ended up there. “The last thing I remember was…the ambulance. I don’t remember anything else until I woke up weeks later.”  “It felt very strange…because I really wasn't sure whether I was ill, whether I'd had an accident…or been kidnapped or what, you know? I just couldn't...

Article: “I had these strange dreams.”

What kinds of memories or dreams do people have? It is very common for patients to have strange memories, dreams or hallucinations. They can seem very real...so real, that no matter how strange they are, patients are often unsure whether they happened or not. They can often be remembered in detail for some time afterwards. The dreams that people have can sometimes be very frightening, but sometimes pleasant or funny. Here are some examples of other people's dreams.We hope they...

Article: Arterial line ("A line")

An arterial line (or "A line") is a sterile plastic tube (or cannula) that is inserted into an artery, usually in the wrist or groin. It allows accurate and continuous measurement of the patient's blood pressure. Blood samples are also taken from this line, to help us measure blood oxygen levels and make sure that the patient is receiving the right amount of support from the ventilator or breathing machine. An arterial line is usually stitched in, using a local anaesthetic, to...

Article: Blood pressure monitoring

We measure patients' blood pressure in Intensive Care using either a blood pressure cuff (like the one in a GP's practice) or using a device inserted directly into an artery (arterial line), usually the wrist or groin. An arterial line lets us monitor the patient's blood pressure accurately and continuously-helpsing us to identify problems quickly. We can also take blood samples (arterial blood gas samples) which tell us how much oxygen is in the patient's blood....

External Video: Bob describes his intensive care experience

In this short video clip, Bob (a former patient) talks about his time in Intensive Care. 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

Article: Catheter (urinary)

Almost every patient in the Intensive care Unit will have a (urinary) catheter during their stay. What is a catheter? A urinary catheter is a flexible tube that is inserted into the bladder to drain urine.It is collected in a clear drainage bag that is usually hung by the side of the bed, where it can be easily seen by the nurse. Why are they used in Intensive Care? Many patients are too unwell or too sleepy to use the toilet normally.It's very important that we accurately check...

Article: Central line ("Central Venous Pressure" or "CVP line")

A central line (also called a Central Venous Pressure or CVP line) is a sterile plastic tube or cannula that is inserted inserted into a large vein, usually in the neck or groin. It is used to measure circulating fluid levels (central venous pressure or CVP) and can help us make sure that the patient is not under or over-hydrated. It is also used to take blood samples, and to administer intravenous fluids, liquid nutrition and some medications. Some medications need to be given via a...

Web Link: Children & young people: advice & support for parents during COVID-19

It can be extremely difficult to keep family life ticking over while you have a family member in Intensive Care. They too will be very worried and anxious about having a relative or close family friend in Intensive Care or in hospital with COVID-19.This link will take you to the website of the NSPCC. There's some great advice about talking to children about coronavirus (including children with special educational needs and disabilities), and taking care of your own emotional well-being...

Web Link: Children & young people: talking about COVID-19

Talking to children and young people about coronavirus can be really difficult. This link will take you to the webpage of the Mental Health Foundation. They offer some really sensible, comprehensive advice on dealing with uncertainty, making sense of the media, safety, social and social distancing.

Web Link: Children and teenagers:where to get support

This weblink takes you to the Winston's wish website; a charity offering advice and support for children and teenagers when someone close is seriously ill or has died. They have produced a number of booklets which can be purchased online. Contact details for a telephone helpline for parents and an email address are also provided.