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What You Can Expect When Visiting a Trauma Patient

Hospitals make extensive use of modern technology. 

  • There will be many machines in the room all attached to the patient in some way
  • Most of them have lights and displays and generate sounds.
  • Remember these machines are either here to directly support the patient, or to help the team monitor and care for the patient.

In general, you can expect that conversation with your family member may be difficult.

  • Some patients are unconscious or semi-unconsciousness due to their physical conditions or medications.
  • Even when they are awake, some patients are not able to communicate.
  • For example, patients who need ventilators (respirators) are attached to the machine by a tube which makes it impossible for them to talk.
  • Some patients are not even able to write.

You may notice that there are a number of tubes coming out and going into the patient. These tubes have different functions. When people are unable to eat, drink, or take medication, all of their needs must be supplied by fluids given through the veins. Critically ill patients may need intravenous fluids for nutrition, transfusions, and medications to change or maintain their blood pressure, to support bodily functions or restore the body's chemical balance.

Other tubes may be inserted to monitor the quantity and quality of body fluids. Often you will see a tube that enters through the nose and extends down the stomach; and commonly a tube is in the bladder to drain urine. Surgical drainage tubes, tubes attached to the respirator, and others may be present. You may find that the patient often has very little covering. This is because we need to see and feel the skil, observe the movements of breathing, and perform frequent physical examinations. We make every effort to maintain the patient's modesty and dignity.