Question

Critical Care

How is multiple organ failure treated in a the intensive care unit (ICU)?

A Answers (3)

  • AJudy Martin, Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

    Multiple organ failure is a life threatening condition which requires a patient to be treated within the ICU setting. When one body system such as the heart experiences failure it has multiple effects upon the other organs. The kidneys are very much affected by the heart and will very quickly experience failure if diligent medical/nursing care is not administered. Liver failure in the end stage can trigger multi-organ failure as well. Bottom line the ICU has the equipment and trained medical staff needed to care for multiple organ failure and that is exactly where you would want to be treated.

  • AJulia Vicente, MSN, Critical Care Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

    Multisystem organ failure is a very complex phenomena that happens to some patients who are very critically ill. There are several things that happen to  a person to make them very sick, these include: infections, ischemia (lack of oxygen to a body part), shock,  bleeding, pancreatitis, trauma, and many other injury and disease states. But what happens is these insults are so overwhelming that body function starts to shut down one organ at a time. This depends on the patient, the age, the diseas or injury, and other patient-specific factors. But the process is the same. As the organs shut down, critical care nurses and doctors can use medications and treatments to "support" the persons body and find and treat the causes. Nurses and doctors are always vigilent in looking for the signs of sepsis (infection) and for organ failure and do everything they can to prevent organ failure.

    Supportive care means to support the body function that needs it. If the person cannot breathe and the lungs need support, you get a breathing tube. If you need lots of oxygen to the tissues in your body you get oxygen. If you need antibiotic, artifical nutrition, you get it. Once again, this is a very complex process and it is difficult to describe it here as it is different for every patient and very complicated.

  • ABess Hannigan, Critical Care Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

    Multiple organ failure is treated in the ICU and depends of the number of organ systems that are in dysfunction and/or failure. The two examples I will give here are lungs (respiratory failure) and kidney (known as renal failure). Antibiotics, medications to support heart rate and blood pressure, fluids and constant monitoring and assessing.

    Respiratory failure is treated either by high flow non-invasive oxygen delivery; this is known as BiPAP. Sometimes this is not enough and the patient needed invasive oxygen delivery by an endotracheal tube. The treatment of the underlying cause of respiratory failure is treated and the patient supported until the patient recovers for the endotracheal tube to be removed; when it is safe for the patient.

    In the event the kidneys fail; dialysis and there are many types of dialysis that is used to support the patient kidney function returns. This again is a treatment not a cure.

    How to limit multiorgan failure as a result from such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection, pressure ulcers and bowel obstruction is done by implementing a group of interventions that increase better outcomes in the event the patient acquires these conditions from being hospitalized; bundles.

    Prevention: get out of bed, sit in a chair and walk with assist if needed. If you need help to get up tell the nursing staff.

    Use your incentive spirometer as ordered. If the nursing staff does not give one to you ask for it. This simple device helps expand your lungs, increase oxygen and nitrogen to your lungs (nitrogen is the major gas in the air that we all breathe). This helps decrease the likelihood the lungs will fail. Turn cough and deep breath; cough up the sputum and don't swallow it.

    Don't stay in bed because of pain. Ask for something for pain, wait 30 minutes and then sit at the edge of the bed. Standing signals the "healing mediators" that you are ready to heal. This in turn signals the bones to start making new bone. New bone means less bone loss and in turn prevents deconditioning. Recent studies support sedation and pain medication strategies that allow the patient to be comfortable without causing complete loss consciousness actually decrease length of ICU stay, length of hospital stay and improved patient recovery 3 months after discharge.

    To recap; multisystem failure is complex and difficult to treat; prevention strategies are the best treatment

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