Intensive Care Unit
Intensive care patients have a few things in common: their condition is unstable, and they require constant and precise care. This care is provided by a team of highly trained and specialized professionals; intensive care physicians and nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, patient care attendants, ward clerks and housekeeping staff all participate in the coordinated effort to save lives.
Patients in the ICU are often unconscious or sedated and they usually require assistance from life supporting technologies that can assist breathing, support blood pressure, and sometimes replace vital organ functions.
The Montreal General Hospital is home to the largest of the three specialized adult trauma centres in Quebec. Our teams are called upon to treat victims of all types of trauma including motor vehicle crashes, industrial accidents, falls, and violent crimes. Multiple teams with specialties in Trauma Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Neurosurgery, Maxillofacial Surgery and other medical specialties work closely with the Intensive Care team to provide the best of care to our patients.
The Lost Narrative
Patients hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit often have little or no memory of the time they spent in the ICU. This “lost narrative” of their life may contribute to some of the difficulties people can experience after critical illness. In order to help patients better understand all they’ve been through and in an attempt to foster a full recovery from critical illness, the ICU team at the MGH has established an ICU Journal project for its patients.
An ICU Journal is a diary account, written in plain language about day to day events going on during the time the patient is in the ICU. Members of the treating team as well as family and friends are encouraged to contribute to the journals, to offer words of encouragement and messages to the patient to help them later review and make some sense of this period of time. Text and photos are entered, and notes about small progress that has been made, and about what’s going on outside as the world keeps turning are particularly important.
The Journals are later offered to the patients during their recovery phase, and ICU team members who see surviving patients as part of the Critical Illness Recovery Program offer to review them with patients should they desire. The journals help to clarify and demystify, and hopefully help the healing process.