Your loved one in the ICU : general information

Your loved one has been admitted to the ICU. ICU stands for Intensive Care Unit. In the ICU, our doctors and nurses will take good care of your loved one. The doctors and nurses will also have a lot of contact with you. Because caring for patients in the ICU is intensive, special rules sometimes apply.


In the ICU, we treat patients who require intensive treatment. This could be after surgery, illness or an accident, for example. We monitor the patients day and night using various devices. We can help patients quickly when necessary.

  • If one or more body functions fail, we treat them with medication and, if necessary and possible, with special equipment.
  • There is always a doctor present on the ward.
  • Each nurse cares for one or two patients. Because nurses relieve each other, there is almost always someone nearby, day and night.
  • Various devices accurately measure the patient's condition.

The first few days

When your loved one suddenly became very ill, they were taken to the ICU. Your loved one's body needs time to recover for the first few days. Sometimes, your loved one will be given medication to give the body rest.

Moving to another ICU

Sometimes, your loved one may need to be moved to another hospital's ICU for proper treatment. Another hospital may be better suited to provide the treatment they need.

Representative and contact person

Doctors and nurses understand that you have questions about your loved one's situation. By law, they are not allowed to share patient information with everyone. Doctors and nurses can only share a patient's information with that patient's representative or contact person.


A patient in the ICU is often unable to advocate for themselves. This could be the case if they are in a coma, for example. If a patient cannot advocate for themself, they need a representative. A representative represents the patient's interests. A patient can have only one representative.

By law, the following persons may be representatives:

  • curator or mentor (appointed by the court);
  • representative authorised in writing;
  • spouse, registered partner or other life partner;
  • parent, child or sibling;

Other people cannot be representatives.

The doctors and nurses will inform the representative of the patient's condition. The representative can ask how the patient is doing at any time.

The representative will inform the patient's family and friends. The representative should ensure that there are not too many visitors each day.

Contact person

The contact person is often also the representative, but does not have to be.

If there is no representative, someone else can serve as the patient's contact person. This could be a neighbour or friend of the patient, for example. A patient can have up to two contact persons.

The contact person can always call the ICU with questions. For example:

  • How is the patient feeling?
  • How did the patient sleep?
  • Is the patient awake yet?
  • Has the patient been out of bed yet?

If necessary, doctors and nurses will inform the contact person of the patient's situation. The contact person will inform the patient's family and friends.

Visiting your loved one

Visiting hours and rules

ICU visiting hours and rules can be found on our website: OLVG visiting hours.

What are you allowed to bring for the patient?

  • Toiletries, such as a comb, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving kit, deodorant and body lotion.
  • Slippers that do not have a smooth sole. Shoes that are easy to put on are also allowed.
  • A mobile phone or tablet for music.
  • The patient's glasses, dentures or hearing aid.
  • A picture of family or friends near the bed can be pleasant for the patient.
  • Food and drinks for the patient. Food and drinks must be approved by the nurse. Fruit is not allowed. Please talk to the nurse if you want to bring food or drinks. There are rules for this.

You do not need to bring clothing. The patient will receive special clothing from the hospital. Personal clothing is inconvenient because the patient is attached to tubes and equipment.

Family room

The family room is a room in the ICU where you can be with family and friends. You can also wait there while the nurse cares for your loved one. Sometimes, the doctor will talk to the family in a family room.

Staying overnight

If your loved one is not doing well, you may want to stay nearby. Talk to the nurse to find out whether you can stay overnight. You cannot stay overnight in the family room without permission.

Children visiting

Children are allowed to visit but must be supervised by an adult. A visit to the ICU can be scary. Prepare the child well for their visit to the ICU. For tips on how to do so, visit: Child visiting the ICU (page is in Dutch, you can use the translation button).

Good to know

  • Your loved one may look different from what you are used to. For example, if they are retaining fluid, they will look swollen. The fluid will disappear on its own as your loved one recovers.
  • Many patients in the ICUU suddenly become confused. This is called delirium. You can read more about this at: Acute confusion (page is in Dutch, you can use the translation button).
  • Sometimes, a patient may become agitated or confused. They may pull out a tube or IV. Because the patient needs the tube or IV, we sometimes have to secure their arms to the bed. The nurse will remove the restraints again as soon as possible.
  • The nurse will often tell your loved one what is happening. The nurse will also tell you this when your loved one is sleeping. Your loved one can hear sounds and feel someone touch them, but they often do not remember that later.

Rules in the ICU

There are rules in the ICU to ensure safety. Some rules are in place to ensure that patients in the ICU do not get an infection.

  • Do not touch equipment and tubes. This is in the best interest of your loved one.
  • Disinfect your hands when you arrive and again when you leave. Disinfectant is located by the doors and in the patient rooms.
  • Do not give your loved one food or drinks without asking the nurse first.
  • The patient's bed is equipped with bed rails. Bed rails keep the patient from falling out of bed. If the bed rails were lowered during your visit, tell the nurse when you leave. The nurse will raise the bed rails again.
  • It is important to maintain peace in the ICU. As such, please walk outside if you need to make a phone call.
  • You may hear an alarm while in the ICU. Not every alarm is bad. If an alarm goes off, the nurse will check on the patient.
  • Do not bring flowers.
  • Leave valuables at home. The hospital is not liable if you lose anything.

Talking to the doctor

Acute admission

When the patient is in the ICU, the doctor will meet with the patient's representative as soon as possible. The doctor will discuss with the patient and representative how things are going at least once a week. The doctor will also tell you what they expect to happen. You will have more frequent meetings In the first few days.

Longer admission

For longer stays in the ICU, we try to arrange fixed contact persons at the ICU. This is often one physician and one nurse. You can read more about this at: Longer admission in the ICU (page is in Dutch, you can use the translation button).

Additional meeting

Please talk to the nurse if you want an additional meeting with the doctor. The nurse can schedule an appointment for you. We recommend that you bring someone with you to the meeting: two can hear more than one.


Spiritual care

Admission to the ICU may raise many questions or thoughts for you. Please contact our Spiritual Care department to speak with one of our spiritual caregivers. You can call the Spiritual Care department on +31 20 599 24 94. You can also ask the nurse to contact them for you.
For more information, visit: Spiritual care (page is in Dutch, you can use the translation button).

From the ICU to the nursing ward

The doctor will determine if and when the patient can be moved to a nursing ward. The doctor or nurse will always inform the representative if the patient is being moved to a nursing ward.


If you have any questions after reading this information, the patient's representative or contact person can call the ICU at any time.

+31 20 599 30 07 (available 24/7)

ICU, OLVG West, route 26
+31 20 510 87 19 (available 24/7)

De informatie op deze pagina is afkomstig van de afdeling Intensive Care van OLVG. Laatst gewijzigd: