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Intensive Care Guidelines

When you visit the ICU, it helps to know what to expect. Because space is limited, you may not be able to bring certain things into the ICU. Check first. Each ICU has its own rules and visiting hours. But most follow some basic guidelines.

Healthcare provider standing in Intensive Care Unit.

ICU guidelines

People who are ill and children under a certain age should not visit the ICU. To keep from tiring the patient, limit visitors to two at a time and try to keep visits short. To prevent the spread of infection, wash your hands when entering and leaving the patient’s room. You may also be asked to put on a gown, mask, or gloves. And it’s best if you don’t wear any perfume. If you hear others speaking to medical staff, please respect their privacy.

What to bring

Cards or small gifts may make your loved one feel better. Or just having a robe from home can be comforting. Bring a copy of the patient’s medical history, a list of medicines, and any advance medical directive (such as a living will).

What not to bring

No plants or flowers, please. Space needs to be kept clear for caregivers and equipment. Turn off cellular phones and other electronic devices. And ask the nurse before bringing in electronic equipment. Don’t give the patient any food or drink (even water) unless you ask the nurse. And don’t share the patient’s meal or bring food into the ICU. Take any valuables (such as jewelry) home for safekeeping.


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