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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In the NICU: Asking Questions

As I mentioned in my first post you can ask the medical staff questions. So what kind of questions did we ask while we were there?

Many are specific to the conditions our son had, and the tests he had to undergo, and how they affected his care. But there are some routine questions we asked. We always asked the nurses to check our son if we thought he was uncomfortable. He was very particular about his position, to the point where if he was in a position he didn’t like, his blood oxygenation would plummet. It was like his way of showing us he wasn’t happy! So position was very important to him, and if he looked uncomfortable, we would ask.

We often asked about his stats (heart rate, oxygenation, breathing rate etc.). Over time we got a feel for what was normal (for example, higher heart rate after caffeine) so if we saw something unusual we would ask what might be causing it. Sometimes it was because a medication was withheld, or dosage changes. Other times we got wishy washy vague answers and then you have to push a little harder or speak with someone else.

For all the major procedures that he went through we always asked about risks, alternatives, side effects. Its also quite good to look some of this up on the internet as we found sometimes some of the risks weren’t really spelled out clearly, and when you are signing that waiver to perform procedures its good to know what you are getting into.

The neonatologists were more responsible for planning. So we would ask them the criteria our baby had to meet go home home, how were we aiming towards those criteria, what had to be overcome. Its difficult to get a consistent strategy with them on shift rotations so I found knowing this pretty useful to keep them on the same track. We would also ask them to keep us updated on the results of his x-rays, blood tests, heart ultrasounds, cranial ultrasounds etc.

Its difficult to keep on top of everything, and the medical jargon thrown around can be overbearing at times. So I never shied away from asking them to repeat something in plain English.

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