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Communicating With Us

Communication with you is a very important part of our job here in the ICU. Different families prefer different amounts of information: some families like to know a lot of details, others don't. Here are some ways we can communicate with each other:

Designate a spokesperson
We know there can be many family members and friends eager to know how a patient is doing.  Communication works best when we have one designated person to provide updates to.  Often times this is the patient's Health Care Proxy, if the patient has assigned one.  That person can then be responsible for sharing updates with the rest of the patient's family and loved ones.  Please let your care team know who the designated contact person will be. 

Ask your nurse
This is often the first, and best, place to start. Nurses in the ICU take care of 1 or 2 patients at a time. They spend a lot of time with their patients and can be helpful in answering questions about the plan of care.

Ask your doctors
There is a team of ICU physicians caring for your family member. There is a doctor covering the unit twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. 

Ask your social worker
Social workers have helped families with issues like: coping with the challenges of a loved one being ill and hospitalized, resources such as local lodging or how to get extra help at home, or concerns related to alcohol or substance abuse, etc. Ask your nurse to call your social worker.

Schedule a family meeting
A family meeting is a time for you to meet with the care team and review what's going on. It is protected time for communication about where we've been, where we're going, and what to expect. 
For more information on preparing for and arranging a family meeting click  here to view our Family Meeting brochure.   

Join us on Rounds
Every morning the ICU team (doctor, nurse, pharmacist, respiratory therapist, and sometimes other members of the team) review and discuss all aspects of your loved one's care and together decide on a plan for the day.  In the past 2 years we have started to include families who are interested in joining as part of rounds. If you think you might be interested in attending, click on the brochure below and read more about what rounds are and if participating is right for you. 
Families on Rounds
(Note: The timing of rounds may vary in each ICU.  Ask your nurse exactly what time rounds happen in your ICU.)

Family pagers
All of our ICUs have restaurant style pagers that can be given to visitors.  Sometimes when procedures are being done or care is being provided to your loved one, the team may ask you to step out of the ICU.  You may also choose to take some time for yourself and get something to eat, go for a walk, or watch television in the family lounge.  In any of these cases you can take a pager with you and our staff will alert you if you are needed back in the ICU.  This allows you to always feel connected to your loved one even from another area of the hospital. 


Each ICU room has a templated whiteboard on the wall.  This whiteboard has a space for care team members' names, the plan for the day, and family members' contact information.  There is also a designated area for patients and families to write their comments and questions for the team.  Here is an  image of the whiteboard that will be in all ICU rooms very soon. 

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Now Recruiting - Intensive Care Unit Advisory Council

If you have had a care experience in a BIDMC Adult ICU, consider becoming an advisor and partner with us to help improve the quality of care for patients throughout our critical care units. 
Learn More