Terms You May Hear
Respirator or Ventilator
Occasionally a patient may have difficulty breathing and require assistance. A soft tube is inserted through the nose or mouth into the airway leading to the lungs. This tube is then connected to a ventilator — the machine that helps the patient breathe. The patient will not be able to talk, but can communicate his needs to others with sign language or writing.
Restraints are sometimes used for the patient’s safety. If the patient is at risk for accidentally removing a tube, line, etc., restraints may be necessary.
This is a small machine placed on the patient’s finger, toe or earlobe to measure the oxygen level in the blood.
Swan-Ganz Catheter (PA Line)
This is a small tube placed into the neck, upper chest or groin by the doctor. The tube is used to measure the level of fluid in the right and left side of the heart, as well as the lungs. Fluids, medications and/or liquid nutrition may also be administered through this tube.
This is a small tube placed in an artery of the wrist or the groin to measure blood pressure. It is connected to an IV bag under pressure and to the heart monitor. The reading may change as the patient moves. The alarms are set to check for changes in blood pressure.
Heart (Cardiac) Monitoring
The person you are visiting will be placed on a heart monitor by means of adhesive electrode. This machine allows the staff to observe the activity of the patient’s heart. A picture of the heart’s activity is shown on a screen above the patient’s bed and at the nurses’ station, where trained personnel are monitoring the heart pattern.
In addition to recording the heart’s activity, the monitor also detects muscle activity as the patient moves about in the bed. Such activity may produce a very irregular pattern on the screen.
Intravenous (IV) Therapy
Intravenous (IV) therapy is a way of providing necessary fluids, medicine and nutrition (food). Intravenous therapy may be given through the veins in the arms, neck, upper chest or groin. In the ICU/CCU, a machine is used to control the amount of fluids given.
This is a small tube placed in the bladder. The tube is attached to a bag that collects urine. The tube is placed in those patients unable to urinate on their own and in those patients that need their urine measured.
Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube)
This is a tube placed through the nose, down the back of the throat and into the stomach. The tube can be used to remove air and stomach fluid. The tube can also be used to send food or fluids into the stomach. The tube is not painful but may be a little uncomfortable around the nose and back of the throat. In general, while this tube is in, the patient will not be eating or drinking