n Southern African Journal of Critical Care - Visitors in the intensive care unit : guest editorial




Patients are admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) because their illness or injury may be life-threatening, requiring intense support and monitoring that cannot be given in the general wards. Critical illness is often sudden, unexpected and can change the lives of both the patient and family members in a matter of minutes. The everyday lives of family and close friends may come to an abrupt halt or be disrupted as they live in the uncertainty of not knowing whether the patient will survive. The ICU, a stressful, unfamiliar, alien and intimidating environment, often becomes the centre of people's lives as they wait desperately for any signs of alterations or progress in the lives of their loved ones. The lives of the patients admitted to ICU are often in danger, which can lead to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in their family members.


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