Assessing Your Hospital's Intensive Care Unit

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Each year, or perhaps more often, one of your tasks as an administrator will involve an assessment of the intensive care unit (ICU) at your hospital along with recommendations for how it could be better. The ICU is one of the most important areas in your facility; people facing acute health threats must place their lives in the hands of the aides, doctors and nurses who work in the department. You can ensure the quality of that department with the work and actions below.

Check in with Staff

The hard-working professionals that staff the ICU are usually busy from the moment they start their shift until they clock out, sometimes hours after their shift was supposed to be done. Their commitment to the patients is likely evident, and that's why their opinions about the unit are essential to any assessment and critical for any recommendations. They may need more supplies, for instance. They might need more aides or more nurses on call. They can tell you what they would like to see done so that you can factor those thoughts into your own reports and work.

Ask Patients

Anyone who is sick enough to need the ICU is obviously not to be bothered while they are trying to get through their health crisis. However, in the weeks that follow, you can contact them either by phone or mail to ask them for any feedback or suggestions they can offer as someone who spent time in that department.

Visit Often

Don't wait until your assessment is due to remember the ICU exists. A weekly visit can provide a lot more information than a monthly or annual one. In the capacity of an impartial observer, your own interpretations of how things unfold on any given day are valuable. You may, for example, see too many aides standing around the break room. You might notice that patient privacy could be handled in a better way or that clutter is causing some delays. First-hand experience of the department is important.

Ensure Adequate Staff

Your medical professionals may have mentioned the need for help at any given time, but you need to take staffing seriously. Your hospital may be trying to keep costs down, but the ICU is a stressful, high-stakes department that must function even if someone has the flu or multiple people cannot work a certain shift. It is essential that it is adequately staffed; ask colleagues in other facilities how many people are in their ICU and how many per-diem staff are on retainer. Converse with your hospital's chief of staff if you are sure more staff are necessary.

With enough information, your assessment and recommendations will be thorough and helpful.For expert assistance in turning your ICU into a top-rate department, speak with an ICU consultant.