Program fosters ICU provider, family communication

Patients with family members in hospital intensive care units are generally not satisfied with the amount or the type of communication they get from ICU providers, according to a new study by researchers with Harvard Medical School. The researchers, who questioned 50 families with members in an ICU, found that communication had broken down in 40 percent of cases. Roughly two-thirds of the families said they weren't happy with the amount of information they got on the patient's status. Other studies suggest that such fractured ICU communication patterns are costing the health system a great deal. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that 5 to 10 percent of chronically critically ill patients are using half of ICU resources, at a cost of about $50 billion per year.

To address this concern, Case's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing is testing out a new, intensive communications program intended to put families, patients and caregivers on the same page. Among other things, the plan calls for meetings every three to seven days between all major participants on the patient's care team, including families, physicians, advanced practice nurses, social workers and clergy as appropriate, intended to communicate facts of the patient's condition, including patient status, treatment options and prognosis. The initiative is funded by a $2 million NIH grant.

Find out more about the ICU communication issue:
- read this item in Medical News Today
learn more about Case's program