Patients & families

It is very important to the inter-professional treatment teams on intensive care units to inform patients and their families promptly about the treatment measures and to involve them appropriately in the decision making.

Family members are always welcome on intensive care wards. If they are visiting an intensive care unit for the first time, they are usually entering a strange world and do not know what to expect. Adequate information is a key aspect that helps families overcome feelings of being powerless in a crisis. The intensive care team will support relatives, take time to address their individual questions and concerns and provide full, honest and readily understandable information.

Health literacy

It is important to find out about the possibilities of intensive care medicine and thereby increase your own health literacy. Someone who is health literate is able to find their way around healthcare matters, assess information, take their own decisions and set them out in a living will. Health literacy also allays fears about intensive care medical treatment.

Living wills

Living wills enable people to provide for those times when they are no longer capable of decision making. People can set out what life-prolonging measures they want and do not want to receive. This supports the person’s own relatives but also the intensive care teams in their decision making so that treatment can proceed in the best possible way and according to the patient’s individual wishes.

Children in intensive care units

In Switzerland there are 16 recognized intensive care units that specialise in treating critically ill children. From premature babies through to adolescents, all young patients who are dependent on special intensive care medical treatment and require constant monitoring are treated in these departments. Nearly six per cent of patients treated in intensive care units in Switzerland are children.

A sick child needs to be recognized early as “critically ill” by its family environment but also by medical professionals. This is the only way that the right treatment measures can be taken promptly and, ideally, in a preventive manner. Accurately assessing the physical and intellectual development of children at different stages of life is the greatest challenge. This assessment is very important in ensuring the correct, age-appropriate therapeutic measures are taken. For instance, a two-year-old infant and a 16-year-old teenager will require entirely different dosages of a medication.

Further information about children in intensive care units can be found here.

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