Time and shifts
The medical and nursing staff is always present, h24: however, you will not find the same people there, because, unlike the other wards, the work is structured within a shift system, in order to get a continuous coverage. On the other hand, this also ensures the quality of work by guaranteeing the necessary rest hours among shifts.
The shifts overlap so you can pass your "agenda", ie information about the condition of the patients and the nursing program planned.
While doctors are also called for the urgent needs of other hospital wards, nurses provide continuous support as they are present in a fixed ratio compared to patients: a nurse for every two patients or at least every three.
The medical and nursing coordinators, as they have responsibility for the management of the department, are always present, with the exception of holidays, from the morning until late afternoon and will be available by telephone during the night, if needed.
The times of the patients
The day for an ICU patient starts early, at 6 am, as blood samples for periodic check-ups are collected and then sent to the laboratory for analysis. Subsequently, the nursing staff takes care of personal hygiene, cleaning and renewal of medications of patients. Depending on the degree of autonomy, patients are mobilized, positioned half seated in bed or sitting in a chair in order to facilitate the gradual recovery of motor activity and the patient's contact with the external environment. The therapy is administered throughout the day at times set by medical staff.
The time of admission
The length of stay in the ICU is highly variable and is influenced by the reason of admission, the state of global health and the natural course of the disease. Generally there is a first phase of support (also with invasive methodics such as endotracheal intubation ...) of the compromised vital functions. This first part is followed by gradual stabilization and subsequent removal of invasiveness and progressive autonomization and rehabilitation. During the first step, the patient is sedated (in order to better tolerate invasiveness and procedures). Then sedation is lightened in order to make easier for the patients to regain a gradual contact with reality and with their own clinical conditions.
Visiting hours for relatives can vary from a few hours to a very long period (open ICUs), depending on the organization of the various centers.
The higher presence of relatives helps the patients to reconnect with a well known and reassuring reality; relatives also have the opportunity to discover more closely the functioning and organization of the ICU. However, the presence of non-health personnel in such a delicate department may sometimes interfere with medical procedures and nursing care, especially regarding the treatment of the most severe patients.
In case of hospitalized children, a visit from the parents is generally possible throughout the whole day.
In many ICUs, the presence of visiting children is not permitted at least up to 12 years of age and, in some cases, up to the majority age.
If a patient's health conditions require it, it is possible to change the visits timing, or that visitors will be asked to temporarily leave the department.