During and after a stay in ICU

Staying in ICU

Patient care

ICU offers highly technical support for our critically ill patients. They will have a lot of equipment and monitors attached to them and around them.

Due to the intense nature of the care we provide, our medical and nursing staff numbers remain constant throughout the day with little difference between day, night and weekends. Our multidisciplinary team of nurses, doctors, allied health, administrative and support personnel provide 24 hour care and support to our patients and their families.

At times it will be necessary to ask you to wait outside when we have to attend to patients or procedures. When this happens, please return to the waiting room. You can buzz to come back in after the given timeframe. Sometimes our patients may leave the unit for a long period of time to undergo a procedure such as a CT scan, angiogram or go to the operating theatre.

Supporting you

We have a team of hospital volunteers, known as Charlie’s Angels, who will be able to assist you at the entry to ICU and will often be your first point of contact. They wear bright yellow shirts and are available every day and during certain times on the weekend.

We aim to meet with you regularly to keep you informed about the patient’s progress. We will update you on the patient’s care, explain treatments, give you timelines and offer guidance. The bedside nurse is there to help you with these matters.

We ask that you nominate one family member as the contact person, usually the nominated next of kin is this person. The patient or next of kin may delegate this responsibility to another family member. This is to ensure consistent information is provided confidentially and enables the bedside nurse to focus on the patient and not be distracted by a large number of calls.

Our social workers are available 7 days a week to provide advice and support. Our staff members have experience caring for patients of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Please let us know if you have any special requirements.

The ICU is an open unit and other patients will be visible. You may see things that disturb or upset you. If you feel faint or unwell, please notify the closest staff member immediately.


Explanation and consent for all operations, procedures and treatments is required for all patients. In emergencies, interventions may be required before consent can be obtained – we will endeavour to get consent as soon as possible. We will endeavour to make sure that information provided through the consent process is understood by the patient and where appropriate by their carers or family as much as possible.

You may be asked to make a decision if your family member is unconscious and/or needs emergency treatment. The Powers of Attorney Act and the Guardianship and Administration Act allow carers or family to provide consent when the patient lacks the capacity to consent.

ICU research

We rely on research to advance the medical services we provide. You may be asked if your family member can participate in current research studies and reviews being performed in ICU. You will have time to read about the research and ask questions. Involvement in research is voluntary and you may withdraw your relative from participation at any time.

Visiting hours

Visiting hours are between 11.00am-8.00pm every day. We have a patient rest period from 1.00pm-3.00pm every day. If you need to visit outside these times, please speak to the nurse caring for the patient. We allow 2 visitors at a time as space is limited at the bedside.

Please note, sometimes visitors will be asked to leave the patient’s bedside for provision of care to the patient or at doctor or nursing handovers and general operational duties within ICU. Children are welcome to visit. Please talk to our nursing, medical staff or social workers before bringing children in to ensure you receive appropriate advice and support.

Phone enquiries from family members may be made at any time. Due to confidentiality, there is limited information that can be provided over the phone. Please try and call outside of nurse handover times which are between 7.00am-7.30am and 7.00pm-7.30pm.

Please switch mobile phones off before you walk into ICU as it can interfere with medical equipment. We do not allow outside food and drinks, mobile phones or recording devices in the unit. In special circumstances, photos may be permitted after approval by the director or the intensive care specialist in charge.

Infection prevention

Patients in ICU are very unwell and their condition makes it easier for them to contract infections. Infections can cause a patient’s condition to worsen and increase their time in ICU or in hospital. Infections can be fatal. It is important that visitors follow our hygiene rules:

  • when you first walk into ICU, please use the hand sanitiser provided at the entry
  • please wash your hands again at the patient’s bedside each time you arrive and before you leave
  • you may be asked to wear a gown and gloves while visiting in some situations. For your own safety, you must wear shoes at all times
  • please note that flowers, plants and large fluffy toys are not permitted into the unit for infection transmission reasons
  • if you are unwell, please ask the nurse if it is suitable for you to visit.

When patients leave ICU

Our patients are transferred to a ward when they are no longer critically ill. There is no doubt that there will be anxiety over the move for many people. Please talk to us about your concerns. Remember, this is a move in the right direction because:

  • a patient’s transfer to the ward is always carefully planned. The patient will be placed in the best position for observation and treatment
  • there is generally less noise and fewer interventions on the ward. This means patients will have a better routine of night time sleep.

On the ward

Nurses on the ward care for up to 4 patients at a time. Please understand that your family member has been moved to the ward because they no longer need one-on-one nursing care. This is a time when you can become more active in the patient’s care. You can help with feeding, reading and providing positive company for your loved one.

Social workers can help you cope with the stress of hospitalisation as well as provide strategies for dealing with longer term issues.

Leaving hospital

Decisions regarding discharge from hospital will be made by the medical team responsible for the patient’s care in the ward. This will include information provided by other health professionals involved in the patient’s care.

Here is some important information that will help you and your family member prepare for discharge.


Your feedback, positive or negative, is important to us. We also like to hear how our patients are going after they leave ICU.

You can provide feedback on the Family Satisfaction Survey found in the ICU waiting room, by speaking to any of the nursing staff or anonymously by contacting the consumer liaison service on (07) 3139 4479.

Inter hospital transfers

For all transfers and referrals please contact the Admitting Consultant for Intensive Care Services through the TPCH switch on (07) 3139 4000.

Research, education and training

The Prince Charles Hospital is always striving for improvement in the way we do things to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. ICU undertakes multiple patient-oriented quality improvement and research projects aimed at improving our clinical practice and our understanding of critically ill patients. We look for new modalities of treatment aimed at improving the outcome of the critically ill, as well as secondary data analysis, audit examining and optimising best practice in the critical care environment.

Our research team collaborates with state, national and international research groups to participate in and/or coordinate research activities with our partners. We have a proud and long tradition of educating and training the next generation of critical care doctors, nurses and allied health professionals in Queensland.

Contact us or visit our careers page for more information

Contact us

Location: Level 2, Building 10, The Prince Charles Hospital
Phone: (07) 3139 4000
Open: 24/7
Visiting hours: 11.00am-1.00pm and 3.00pm-8.00pm

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