This blog was first published at our sister site http://intensivecarehotline.com a support and resource website for Families of critically ill Patients in Intensive Care
Hi, it’s Patrik Hutzel from INTENSIVECAREHOTLINE.COM with another weekly update. In this week’s blog I want to show you
How to take control if your loved one has a severe brain injury and is critically ill in Intensive Care
If your loved one has been admitted to Intensive Care with a severe brain injury, chances are that you don’t really know what it all means and what to do next. In fact, if your loved one has been admitted to Intensive Care with a severe head injury and has been placed in an induced coma on a ventilator, with lots of tubes coming out of your loved one’s body, you are probably devastated and you feel like so many other Families of critically ill Patients in Intensive Care, helpless, vulnerable and out of your comfort zone.
To make matters worse, Intensive Care Units are pretty quick in painting a doom and gloom picture for severe head injuries and they are very quick in breaking bad news for you and for your Family and their first response is often that your loved one has a very poor prognosis.
Brain injuries are very different from any other admission diagnosis to Intensive Care and the major difference is that the brain is the only organ that can’t be controlled. All other major organs such as the heart, the lungs, the liver and the kidneys can be controlled at least temporarily. That is not the case with the brain and because the brain has a life on its own it’s hard to control it.
There are of course things that can be done to minimise the impact of the severe brain injury, such as placing your critically ill loved one in an induced coma, however if the brain injury is severe, the induced coma can only minimize but not necessarily control high pressures in the brain that might cause damage to the brain.
As an overall strategy, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about the “doom and gloom” picture that the Intensive Care team is painting and it is more important for you to ask the right questions in order to take control of the situation. Stay positive as a starting point, no matter what!
The right questions you need to ask are
• How long would it take for your loved one to recover if the Intensive Care team is doing their best?
• Are the Intensive Care team telling you the truth or are they only painting a bleak picture because they don’t want to deal with your loved one for many weeks in Intensive Care? Bare in mind, severe head injuries have a much longer recovery time and therefore length of stay in Intensive Care
• Critically ill Patients in Intensive Care with severe brain injuries often recover in their own time and therefore their length of stay in Intensive Care is prolonged, difficult and unpredictable. Does that mean that the Intensive Care team doesn’t have the patience, the optimism, the positive culture or the budget to deal with your critically ill loved one adequately? (I have written a blog post about how culture in ICU impacts on Patient care http://intensivecarehotline.com/what-the-doctors-and-the-nurses-behaviour-in-intensive-care-is-telling-you-about-the-culture-in-a-unit/ )
• Some Intensive Care Units that I have worked in, had a very positive outlook and very positive culture around their Patient care and therefore also had improved Patient outcomes. Is the unit that you are dealing with focused on the positives or on the negatives? Are the people that you are dealing with trying to sell you good or bad news?
• Are there other admissions waiting to come to the Intensive Care Unit? Is there competition for beds and staff? Would that be part of how the Intensive Care Unit is trying to position their prognosis?
• It’s crucial that you question the moving parts in the background of an Intensive Care Unit, because without you knowing what’s happening behind the scenes and without you asking the right questions, you can’t be in control of the situation
Thank you for tuning into this week’s blog and I’ll see you again in another update next week! Make sure you also check out our “your questions answered” section at http://intensivecarehotline.com/category/questions/ or send me an email to [email protected]
This is Patrik Hutzel from INTENSIVECAREHOTLINE.COM and I’ll see you again next week with another update!