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NICU: Communicating With the Staff

Topic Overview

The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) staff are vital not only to your infant's health but also to your understanding of your infant's condition. When you are with your infant's doctor or nurse, ask whatever questions you have about your infant's health and care. The NICU staff understands that this is all new to you. It's a good idea to keep a running list of written questions to refer to when you're on the unit.

Expect the NICU to be both a stressful place for you and a stressful place for the staff to work. Events on the NICU can unfold quickly, and communication can sometimes suffer. With this in mind, be prepared for any of the following problems:

  • Moving of your infant's bed in your absence, due to patient changes on the unit
  • Changes in your infant's attending doctor, a result of staffing rotations
  • Communication problems between you and a staff member or between medical staff members
  • Personality conflict between you and a staff member
  • Disagreement between you and a staff member about your infant's care

If you encounter communication problems on the NICU:

  • Be assertive. Speak calmly and frankly about what troubles you and what you would like to happen instead.
  • If you're concerned that you may anger someone who cares for your infant, talk to the NICU social worker or family advocate. This person can advise you as well as function as a mediator between you and another person.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kimberly Dow, MD, FRCPC - Neonatology
Last Revised March 22, 2013

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