What are the Responsibilities of an ICU Nurse?

Intensive Care Unit or ICU Nurse Duties and Responsibilities

What is the Intensive Care Unit in Nursing?

It is that specialty within nursing which deals particularly with human responses to life-threatening or serious problems. There are different types of critical care units in the hospital such as the Pediatric intensive care unit, Neonatal intensive care unit, Coronary intensive care unit, Post-anesthesia intensive care unit, surgical intensive care unit, Psychiatric intensive care unit, Neurological intensive care unit, Trauma intensive care unit and High dependency intensive care unit.
ICU Nurse
Fig: ICU Nurse

Duties and Responsibilities of  an ICU Nurse:

Some key roles of a critical care nurse or ICU nurse have discussed in the following:

1. Knowledge and Skills:

The critical care nurse or ICU nurse should be an expert clinician who can recognize the symptoms of complications at the very earliest stages. She should have comprehensive knowledge of human physiology and how it changes as the patients recover or deteriorate. Critical care nurses are expected to intervene to prevent complications and to manage patient’s well-being by adjusting medications, fluid, and therapeutic devices to keep the patient stabilized during the recovery process. It should be noted that the nurse is the person who provides emotional support to the patient in a high-technology environment.

2. Technology and Equipment:

Critical care units are heavy in technology and ICU nurses should be able to manage the different pieces of equipment while still maintaining human contact with severely sick patients who may not be able to communicate. Intensive care unit equipment includes patient monitoring equipment such as electrocardiograph and blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters to measure oxygen in the patient’s bloodstream, and other monitors that measure the pressure inside the brain of the patients breathing.

3. Coordinating Care:

Intensive care unit patients often have multiple doctors as well as other health care professionals involved in their care. ICU nurse is expected to commensurate care and to intervene if there is conflict or confusion between other staff members.

The members of the family are often very stressed by the patient’s sickness and need emotional support; in some cases, the nurse may need to facilitate discussion between family members and physicians about the best choice of care. The nurse might act as a mediator when disputes arise. Obtain aid from chaplains’ social workers or access the hospital’s ethics committee.

4. End of Life Care:

Not all the patients in an intensive care unit survive. The nurse is often the person who facilitates the discussions and supports the family members during the patient’s last moments when a patient refuses to care or a family has decided to remove life support equipment.

If a family decides on organ donation, the nurse helps ensure that the patient is maintained in the best possible state to allow for high-quality organ recovery. ICU nurses also support family members through this very critical time.

Other roles and responsibilities of a critical care nurse have listed below:

  • Respect and support the right of the patient or the patient designated a surrogate to autonomous informed decision making.
  • Intervene that time when the best interest of the patient is in question.
  • Help the patient obtaining necessary care.
  • Provide necessary education and also support to help the patient or the patient’s designated surrogate make decisions.
  • Represent the patient following the patient’s choice.
  • Support the decisions of the patient or designated surrogate or transfer care to an equally qualified critical care nurse.
  • Negotiate for patients who cannot speak for themselves in situations that needed immediate action.
  • Act as a liaison between the patient’s family, patient, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and drugs chart.
  • Maintain intake and output chart.
  • Monitor strictly patient conditions.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene and strict aseptic techniques when performing any procedures.

More questions related to this article:

  1. What is the key role of a critical care nurse?
  2. What does an intensive care unit nurse do?
  3. What does a trauma ICU nurse do?
  4. How much does a trauma ICU nurse make?
  5. Discuss ICU nurse duties and responsibilities.
  6. Discuss the duties and responsibilities of a critical care nurse specialist.
  7. Discuss the role of a nurse in the critical care unit.
  8. Discuss critical care nurse job description.
  9. Discuss ICU nurse job description.

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