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What you should expect when visiting critical care

Critical care is based on level 3 of the surgical block and is well signposted. Click here for visiting times

We believe that patients in our care should be respected as unique, dignified and independent individuals.  Throughout this period of their illness it is our intention to provide a high standard of care appropriate to the patient’s needs, to encourage and support family involvement and to accommodate their mutual support.

Whilst striving to achieve our patient’s full recovery and return to health, we must acknowledge however that a time may come when this is not possible.  Occasionally we may need to transfer the patient you are visiting to another hospital. This may be because the patient requires more specialist care, or to provide a bed for a more acutely ill or unstable patient.

Patients who are transferred to other hospitals for this reason will be returned to the QE at the very first available opportunity.

If it is necessary for your relative to be moved in this way, you will be given as much advance warning as possible. We appreciate that this can be a very upsetting time, however patients are only moved to a different hospital when it is absolutely necessary.

As patients are attached to various monitoring leads and infusion lines, their normal nightwear may not be appropriate. Until patients become more independent a small selection of toiletries is all that may be needed. Nursing staff on the ward will be able to guide you with this matter.

Loved ones and you

We understand how scary it can be to see a loved one surrounded by so much equipment. We’ve explained below some of the types of equipment you might see in critical care which we hope will make them seem less intimidating.  Your relative will be connected to one or more types of monitor, this allows staff to observe and measure a variety of functions. Surprisingly, rather than being very quiet, critical care is often a hive of activity, and alarms on equipment will sound. These are normal safety functions that indicate a change has occurred or remind us that an infusion needs to be changed.

  • fluids and drugs - A number of infusion pumps will also be near the bedside, these are necessary to administer specific amounts of fluid and drugs through tubes temporarily fixed into veins.
  • eating and drinking - If your relative is unable to eat or drink, a feeding tube may be inserted into the stomach via the nose in order to provide vital nutrition.
  • ventilator - Patients may also require the support of a ventilator, which is a machine that helps the patient to breathe. Initially patients will be given sedatives to make sure this experience is not distressing. This means that they will not be able to fully respond or speak however as they may still be able to hear, it is important to talk to them as normally as possible. As a patient’s condition improves they can be weaned off the ventilator.
  • kidney machine – If your relative’s kidneys are not working, they may need to be attached to an artificial kidney machine. This will remove waste from the blood and manage fluid levels.

Call us on 0191 482 0000

In emergencies dial 999 / Non-emergencies dial 111

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