Common meds include: epi, norepi, vasopressin, dopamine, dobutamin, diltiazem amiodarone, neosynephrine, Isuprel, fentanyl, versed, ativan, valium, morphine, dilaudid, phenergan, zofran,xigris, levaquin, cipro, tygacil, meropenem, unasyn, vanc, etc (you get the idea) The ICU RNs use many drugs that are not found outside of the ICU.
Other equipment we must know how to use, troubleshoot, monitor: Ventilators, bedside monitor, SVO2 boxes, balloon pumps, swan ganz catheters, ICP bolts, ventrics, different oxygen set ups, wound vacs.
Lots of blood products are given in ICU including FFP, PRBCs, Platelets, Cryo, Albumin.
Typical diagnoses include: Sepsis, SIRS, septic shock, hypovolemic shock, bowel obstructions, multiple traumas, pneumonia, GI bleeds, post-op thoracic surgery, and many others.
Typical day in my unit: Spend a good 30-40 minutes getting report on TWO patients. Assess. Check alarms, Check gtts for correct rates/calculations and that you have an extra levo and vaspressin in your room so that you don't run dry. Check your 4 chest tubes. Check the patient's bowels to make sure they are moist, pink, and moving. Is your ICP bolt intact? Appropriate waveform? Is your swan ganz in the PA or is it wedged? Are the numbers you're receiving making sense? Do I need to adjust my pressors/CV drugs because of the swan numbers/patient assessment or not? If so, which gtt do I need to alter. Don't forget those q15m vitals because you changed your drip. Do your q1h accu checks and adjust your insulin gtt. Serial labs. Coordinate the interdisciplinary team. Send serial labs. Electrolyte replacements, ABX, trying to keep your intubated patient in the bed and from extubating themselves. Then go to your other patients room and do the same thing all day as well.
Lots of traveling to CT, MRI, interventional radiology. We recover our own patients post-op. Lots of bedside procedures: Swans, bolts, ventrics, line insertions and changes, intubation, chest tubes, bedside ex-laps,
The tasks in the ICU can absolutely consume you for the entire 12 hours to the point where you have difficulty doing real monitoring and noticing changes in your patient's CO/CI, HR, and RR that might clue you to impending disaster.
Don't forget LOTS of bowel movements and linen changes with all of this equipment attached. It can sometimes take 3-4 people at the bedside just to gain control of a bowel movement.
Hope this helps