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Communication with intensive care patients


Communication with conscious patients who are on oxygen and cannot verbally communicate due to temporary loss of speaking ability has proven to be anywhere from problematic to extremely difficult for the nursing staff trying to understand the needs of the patients.


In order to improve the situation of conscious patients on oxygen, it is first necessary to conduct a status quo analysis to determine which communication aids can be implemented in the care of such patients. For this reason, a questionnaire was designed and carried out with the staff of the ICU.


The questionnaire of the intensive care staff showed that from 31.7% (20 staff members), the use of diverse electronic aids was indicated 10 times as a means for improvement in the communication situation of conscious patients on oxygen. A further question regarding communication aids that the intensive care staff would like - but are not available in the ward - resulted in the computer being named as the most wanted communication aid. In cooperation with the engineering secondary school (HTL Mössingerstraße) a special keyboard was developed especially to suit the needs of conscious patients on oxygen and an operating system was installed on computers the general hospital made available.


The results indicated that the communication between the patients and the nursing staff using the computer showed a 50% improvement in understanding the needs of the patient from the point of view of the nursing staff. Thirty percent of the patients had tracheotomies and 20% were aphasia patients.


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Correspondence to R Likar.

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Likar, R., Langhold, V., Kovinjalo, A. et al. Communication with intensive care patients. Crit Care 14, P470 (2010).

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  • Oxygen
  • Operating System
  • Care Patient
  • Emergency Medicine
  • General Hospital