All patients have the right to privacy about their medical condition and the care they receive. Information about a patient’s condition is confidential. Enloe can give this information only to immediate family members or designated care partners. A one-word condition report may be provided to the media if they request it. However, any further information is confidential.
We have found that the best way to communicate information to a patient’s loved ones is through one designated care partner. This person will choose a password to receive information. The nurses and doctors will communicate all information to this person. The care partner is then responsible for communicating information to others.
Visiting hours in the ICUs are patient-centered. The patient, patient’s loved ones and nurse will work together to determine a visitation schedule that serves the patient's best interest. Critically ill patients may only tolerate very limited visiting periods.
Enloe recognizes the benefit of visiting loved ones in the hospital. We have general visitation guidelines and information, as well as special considerations for the ICU.
• When you are visiting, remember your loved one needs rest to recover. For this reason, the nurse may ask that you keep your visit short.
• The nurse may suggest a quiet rest time for your loved one in recovery.
• Children under the age of 14 may visit in patient care areas for brief times on a case-by-case basis with approval from the charge nurse. This is in keeping with Enloe’s philosophy of patient- and family-centered care.
• Gifts and flowers are not encouraged due to the limited space taken up with the monitoring equipment.
• It is the ICU’s policy to prohibit photography of any kind without the prior written consent of the patient or the patient's legal representative. This includes the use of cellphone cameras and is consistent with respect for patient privacy and confidentiality.
To protect yourself and our patients, please cleanse your hands with antiseptic hand wash before entering and leaving the patient’s room. Hand sanitizer dispensers are outside each patient room. Handwashing helps prevent the spread of germs.
Some patients need special protection from common germs. In those cases, we take special isolation precautions. We will use these precautions if a patient has a weakened immune system or if the patient has, or is suspected of having, a contagious disease. Isolation precautions can also be used to protect guests and staff.
When these precautions are in place, we will give all visitors instructions about steps to take before entering an isolation room. Precautions include the use of gloves, gowns, masks and other protective devices.
The doctor or nurse may want to limit the number of visitors for patients in isolation to lessen the chance of exposure to germs. Even mild symptoms of illness can put a critically ill patient at risk, so family and friends who visit should be certain they are healthy.
The best thing you can do for the person you love in the ICU is to be there. Under the guidance of their care nurse, you may be able to touch your loved one, hold their hand, talk or read to them and let them know you care. Your loved one may not be able to respond, but they may be able to sense your presence.
If your loved one is unable to speak, let the ICU team know what kind of care they would want. Patients’ loved ones are experts on the choices they would make if they could talk for themselves.
When you first visit the ICU, you may be concerned about the number of machines attached to your loved one. Below are some of the common machines in an ICU. The patient’s nurse can explain these to you at the bedside.
Each machine has one or more alarms. The nurses are aware of them and will respond as needed. Some alarms need our immediate attention, and others are for information only. Please do not be worried if the nurse does not enter the room immediately. While the machines and alarms can be distressing, they allow us to care for your friend or relative in the most safe and effective manner possible.
This machine looks like a television with many lines moving across the screen. The lines reflect an electrocardiogram (EKG) that measures the electrical activity of the heart. The heart monitor is connected to the patient by wires and sticky pads on the chest. The patient’s blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and other information is displayed on this monitor and at the nurses’ station. This way, the nurses can continuously see what is happening with your loved one.
Ventilator (Breathing Machine)
When a patient has a ventilator, it assists with breathing while delivering oxygen into the lungs. A tube passes through the vocal cords, so the patient will not be able to talk while this tube is in place. If you are talking to a patient who is on a ventilator, it is important to ask simple questions that can be answered with a simple nod of the head. Many patients who are on ventilators are sedated to keep them comfortable. However, when under sedation, a patient may not be able to respond to you.
Intravenous (IV) Lines
Most patients in the ICU will have one or more IV line in place to deliver fluids or medications.
You may notice several tubes, or catheters. These put fluids or nutrition into the body or remove body fluids.
Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It provides relief from the symptoms, pain and stress of serious illness. It can also assist with resources, help bridge the gap from the hospital to outpatient care and help connect physicians. Unlike hospice care, Supportive & Palliative Care can be provided with curative treatment at any stage of illness.
Please keep cellphone use to a minimum while visiting in the ICU, as conversations may interfere with a patient’s ability to rest.
• To promote a quiet, restful environment, please turn off cellphone ringers while in the ICU.
• Please try to schedule cellphone usage to time when you are outside of the ICU.
We discourage patients from keeping valuables with them in the hospital. It is best to send valuables home with loved ones whenever possible.