icu what should i do

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my dad is in icu with breathing problems for a week now while visiting him i was left alone with him for over 25 min he came to and was trying to get the tube out of his mouth no one came to help the nurse in the other room was having similar problems with her patient she rushed in after a few horrendous min and increased his sedation told us to hold his hands away from his mouth that she had to get back to her patient . what would have hapned if i had not been there. is it not the case that he should have had cover as he was on a ventelator, i reported the incident to the sister who said she would look into it , should i take it further ,it a normal practice to be left alone for this length of time in icu and what do they do at night

7 Replies

  • Hey, how frightening for you. I recall coming out of sedation whilst intubated and it was so scary - I was trying to do the same - but think after being shouted at to calm down (shouting that to anyone never works) I was sedated again. So I had a nurse(s) with me to deal with that horrendous moment but there were others when nurses took their break and someone else's had two or three patients to monitor. I was throwing up but couldn't sit up so panicked and called out to another nurse - I couldn't see them which too, was worrying but think I was told that by my own - and it left me very very worried. I can't say whether a nurse should be there constantly when sedated; perhaps your Dad coming out of sedation wasn't expected so soon but it truly is an awful experience for you both. Nurses are with a patient 24/7 but have to take rest periods when others are asked to keep an eye/ear out. Yes, if it concerns you and you are not satisfied with Sister follow up then take it further or speak to someone else in addition - there should be a PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) in the hospital. I hope your Dad recovers soon and comfortably. Please be aware, he may have hallucinations whilst poorly and psychological effects from his hospitalisation after discharge in some months; it's normal. All the best for you and your family.

  • Sorry to hear about the experience you are having with your dad; being ventilated is a very distressing situation. Yes do go back and ask to speak to the unit manager if you have not had an answer. There is a generally accepted standard (and this has been investigated by the care quality commission in at least one hospital that i am aware of) that patients who are mechanically ventilated should be nursed 1-to-1/not left alone but there are times during a shift when this might not be possible such as an emergency with another patient. This is for their safety. I would imagine that they were still monitoring from a distance knowing that you were there with him. However it is important you have confidence in the care he is receiving otherwise this may leave you with unresolved issues in the future. Do talk to the manager - or as was suggested to PALS - about this if you prefer as the unit will want you to be involved in his care and should be happy to talk through what they are doing and why to help you learn more about this very unnerving environment. If you ever have any problems like this again and help is not close by there is a red emergency button on the panel above the bed. Ask and they will tell you where it is. If you pull this you will get immediate help. I hope you get a satisfactory answer. Good luck.

  • Caroline how frightening for you. I think it's very important that you should have confidence that the staff are looking after your father properly, so I agree with Kulta and Granny Sarah that you should follow things up with the ward Sister. Also, their comments ring true to my own experience as an ICU patient two years ago. I had some terrifying hallucinations as per Kulta's comments. I have only recently been able to talk to my daughter (my next of kin) about my being in ICU, and the stress and fear she experienced must have been awful for her - so I can empathise with your situation and your concern for your father. I hope he recovers soon

  • As a critical care nurse - I can confirm that in the UK the standard is 1-nurse to 1-patient for mechanically ventilated patients. However as others have acknowledged when nurses have their lunch break or are needed to help with an emergency at another bed-space - there will not be a nurse constantly at bedside. Nurses try to prioritise and they will know that a patient who is awake but on a ventilator with a breathing tube needs to be closely observed. You may feel uncomfortable with this but the reality is if family members are with a patient we know they will shout us if they are concerned. So what you see when you are there is not necessarily what happens when you are not there. The nurses may have much more of a presence if they know the patient is alone.

    Some great advice from Kulta and granny_sara - I have little to add to that but would encourage you to discuss anything you are worried about with staff.

  • thank you all for your advice he has opened his eyes and looks terrified we keep reassuring him that he is going to be alright thats as much as we can do for the moment

  • Hi caroline

    As a sister in Intensive care I can reiterate what the last nurse has said. I realise that this is very frightening for you and very stressful. We do have to leave our ventilated patients sometimes but we always make sure that the nurse in the next bed area is aware that we are not there. It does make it difficult if you are in a side ward, but we always say to the relatives where we will be and to shout the nurse outside the room if they are worried and they do. Often just having family members there can be calming in it's self. I hope things are going well for you.

  • dad is now out of icu and back on the ward thank you all for your support unfortunately he has since been told he has cancer of the brain and is not a well man

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