What will happen to my child?

This question is on the lips of every parent or carer whose child is admitted to Intensive Care. It can be a very frightening time for parents. Probably the hardest aspect is feeling that things are out of your control. You can help overcome this by getting involved in your child's care.

Thankfully, children in intensive care are unlikely to die. Out of a typical group 100 patients admitted to our Unit, more than 97 will survive. There are a few diseases and conditions that have a higher death rate than the average. While it is hard to predict outcomes for individuals, our working culture is very open about such things and the intensive care Consultants will be candid with you about the outlook for your child.

Unfortunately, there are a very small number of our patients who will die, or for whom there is no hope of a meaningful recovery. For these patients, further Intensive Care may be futile and not in the best interests of the child or young person. Each one of these situations is handled individually and sensitively with attention to the views and beliefs of the patient and the family. We have close links with our colleagues in Palliative Care and the Children's Hospice.

There is another small minority of patients who never fully recover from their initial intensive care problem and who become "technologically dependent" on machines such as portable ventilators or intravenous feeding pumps. These patients usually remain on the ICU until they can be transitioned to the appropriate home care team.