An Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is a special hospital or health care facility department that provides critical care and life support for acutely ill and injured patients.
The ICU is run and staffed by specialist doctors and nurses who have undergone extensive training in intensive care. Other members of the team include pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational and speech therapists, radiographers, social workers and other administrative staff .
A person is admiited to ICU
after major surgery
after major trauma
during serious illness such as heart attack or kidney failure
during serious chest infection
after transplant surgery
Each hospital may have a specific visitor policy. The ICU may allow visitors at any time of the day or night, provided the patient’s privacy is maintained during procedures and medical examinations.
Too many visitors at one time can be very tiring for patients. Visitors may be limited to immediate family or special friends, which includes a limit on the number of people at the bedside to one or two. This is to avoid any disturbance to other patients in the next bays. Also, respect the privacy and confidentiality of other patients in the unit.
Keep your phone silent and do not bring in any gifts for your loved ones. Do not visit your loved ones if you are not feeling well.
If you are visiting at the time of ward rounds, you may be asked to leave when the doctors arrive to see your loved one. You may also be asked to leave during the nurse’s handover.
Your family member or friend has been admitted to the ICU because they may be very sick requiring intensive treatment and care. In the absence of intensive treatment, they may have serious long-term effects on their health, including death.
If it is your or your family member's first visit to an ICU, it is normal for you to feel helpless, and desperate to know everything you can about their chances of recovery.
In cases where ICU stay is prolonged; the medical and nursing staff will keep you informed of your or your loved one's progress. Staff will also schedule discussion sessions to discuss the progress and answer your questions.
Intensive care treatment may not always be favourable for your patient, and this will be reviewed in length with you by the medical staff. You may also be asked to decide on withdrawing or not initiating specific treatment depending on the clinical condition.
Procedure & Consent
Patients are usually transferred to another ward in the hospital when they no longer need continuous monitoring and support.
After admission to ICU, most of the patients are connected to monitors. The monitors continuously monitor the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation and many other indices to facilitate patient management. Some patients may be on a breathing machine (ventilator) to help breathe; some may be on dialysis or undergoing some other ICU intervention.
ICU treatment is complex and involves various procedures and specific treatments. All procedures include some risk to the patients and are undertaken when benefits are thought to outweigh risks.
The number and type of procedures performed depend on the severity of your or your loved one's illness and the length of time in the ICU. It is possible that sometimes these procedures may be urgent.
Seeking consent for each procedure may delay the treatment. Therefore, you or your family members may be asked to sign a consent form that covers all these procedures and treatments at the start.
There can be various complications during these procedures, sometimes at the beginning, during and after the procedure. All precautions are taken to minimise these risks. All procedures are performed and supervised by experienced staff.
You or your family member will be discharged home once you/family member has recovered and is well enough to go home.
Intensive care treatment may not always be favourable for your patient, and a discussion undertaken in length with you or next of kin by the medical staff.
You may be asked to decide on withdrawing or not initiating specific treatment. If appropriate, the medical staff may also talk to you about organ donation.