Being in ICU
Didi Hartling, RN, is senior clinical manager of the Intensive Care Unit at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: My mother was put in the ICU after her surgery. What does that mean?
Answer: ICU stands for Intensive Care Unit. The intensive care unit is where patients are placed when they need a higher level of care, including closer observation and intensive monitoring.
Although patients who come to the ICU are critically ill, intensive care is usually only offered to those whose condition is potentially reversible and who have a good chance of surviving with intensive care support. ICUs are generally the most expensive, high technology and resource intensive area of medical care.
A patient in the ICU typically is hooked up to a bedside monitor that allows the hospital staff to closely monitor all vital signs.
Also in the ICU, because the patients need extra attention, there is one nurse for every two patients so the nurses can more closely monitor all of the patient’s needs. The ICU nurses are specially-trained to handle patients that require very specialized care, such as intravenous medications for blood pressure, heart rate or require treatments that can only be done in the ICU environment.
Some hospitals in the country, such as Banner Estrella, have gone a step further and hired highly-trained and specialized physicians, called Intensivists, to supervise and manage the care of their critically ill patients in the ICU.
Depending on what type of surgery your mother had, she could spend at least one or two days in the ICU before she is transferred out of the ICU to a room in the Telemetry or Medical/Surgical unit, where she will be cared for until she is released to go home from the hospital.