Intensive care room can be a very intimidating place, both in terms of the sound and the many devices; it is a place designed to allow continuous monitoring of the patient and where, day and night, highly specialised care is provided.
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You will see many machines and screens: each device monitors a certain number of parameters allowing adjustements of the therapies as close as possible to the patient’s needs
You will hear many alarms: caregivers set the thresholds in order to be alerted to certain variations in patient parameters
You may be surprised to see that the partitions are glazed: it allows the continuous monitoring of the patient
Electrodes are are stuck to the patient’s chest and connected by thin cables to the “scope” or monitor, in order to measure the heart rate, follow the movements of the electrocardiogram and detect any abnormalities.
The pulse oximeter is a small clip that is placed on the fingertip or on the earlobe of the patient. It is also connected to the monitor and allows monitoring of the oxygenation of the patient.
The intubation tube is a tube usually placed through the mouth that will go down to the junction between the lungs, and allow to assistance of the patients breathing.
Assisted ventilation can be administered in two ways: in some cases, a mask covering the nose and mouth, connected to the ventilator, can be used to administer oxygen with a certain pressure when the patient has difficulty breathing on his own: this is called NIV or Non-Invasive Ventilation. In other cases, breathing must be assisted in a more precise way: a tube (intubation tube) is then introduced through the mouth, into the trachea, and is connected to the respirator (or ventilator). Breathing is then assisted by the ventilator and allows precise adjustments to protect and efficiently supplement the lung and its functions.
A urinary catheter can be placed to collect urine and measure its volume accurately, which allows us to obtain indications on the renal function.
A gastric tube, inserted through the nose or mouth into the stomach, is used either to collect stomach contents or to administer liquid food and medication using a pump.
Catheters (small flexible tubes) can be inserted into the veins to administer hydration, nutrition and medication necessary for the patient’s care. We speak of peripheral cannulas for small cannaulas placed on the hands or forearms (commonly called infusions), or central cannulas for cannulas placed in large veins (commonly neck or groin) to secure the administration of certain medications. Some cannulas also allow certain pressures to be measured: for example, the arterial cannula, placed in the wrist or groin, allows blood pressure to be measured continuously and blood to be drawn without a new puncture.
Drains can be used to remove air, blood or other fluids that are abnormally present in certain cavities of the body. These are again flexible tubes connected to collection jars.
Electric infusion pumps and syringe pumps precisely control the rate of delivery of medications, fluids (hydration) and nutrition.