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Question
My birth mother is in the ICU with a breathing tube and right now I don't know what sort of prognosis she has. I am 200 miles away and haven't spoken to her doctors yet myself, I get my news from her husband. She is 66 years old and last week she fell and broke a hip, needing hip replacement surgery. Three years ago this happened with the other hip, she has chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy which makes her prone to falls. Two days after surgery her oxygen levels dropped and she was given a face mask for oxygen. She kept pulling it off so they gave her a more substantial mask and tied her wrists to the bed. Today her husband said she's on a "resusitator" and I don't know if he meant that she has a breathing tube. He said they don't know why her lungs are collecting fluid. As a further complication she has hepatitis C and early stage cirrhosis. Her husband said she is sedated and unaware of her surroundings, that she may or may not recover, they're going to keep her in ICU for another 4 or 5 days and see how she's doing. I don't press him for details, he is a difficult person to deal with. Today he gave me the phone number of her pulmonologist but it was too late in the day to speak to him. I don't know what to think. What can you tell me? Thanks for your help.

Answer
Dear Lee,

If you have not done so already, call the pulmonologist. Due to HIPPA laws, it is questionable whether or not he will discuss her care. You can ask her husband to give the physician permission to speak with you. If she is unconscious, then she is intubated and sedated. Her comorbidities do complicate things. Rather than worry about the unknown, I recommend you speak with the professionals who are caring for her.  

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Dr. Pamela M. Cipriano, DNP, ACNP-BC

Expertise

My name is Dr. Cipriano. I am able to answer questions regarding critical care issues including the cardiac system, pulmonary system, gastrointestinal system, gallbladder, small bowel obstructions, crohn's disease, diverticulitis, general abdominal surgery, ventilator management, ARDS, dehydration, heart failure, kidney failure, shock. pneumona, surgical complications, disease process.

Experience

I am a Hospitalist at a local hospital and in the emergency department. I am on the Medical Staff. I round, admit, discharge, consult and assist with surgeries in the OR. I manage patients in the ICU and Med/Surg floors.

Organizations
Society of Hospital Medicine American College of Nurse Practitioners Connecticut Advance Practice Nurse Society

Education/Credentials
Maryville University 2014-2016 Doctor of Nursing Practice University of Connecticut 2007-2011 MSN, Acute Care Track Nurse Practitioner. Board Certified September 2011 Central Connecticut State University 2002-2006 BA Psychology St. Mary's Hospital School of Nursing 1991-1993 Diploma Nursing Registered Nurse

Awards and Honors
Golden Key Honor Society; Merit Award Recipient; Scholarship Recipient

Past/Present Clients
Trained at Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CT - Open Heart Cardiac Intensive Care Post Anesthesia Care Unit & Radiology Internship Interned at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas Trained at St. Mary's Hospital, Waterbury, CT - emergency Department & Hospitalist Program

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