here is a handbook that was written for visitors to the icu. it was designed as a teaching tool to acquaint the general public with what goes on in the intensive care unit.
- a primer on critical care for patients and their families from the american thoracic society. there is a wealth of information here the includes discussions of the purpose of the intensive care unit, common illnesses of patients in the intensive care units, icu devices and procedures (foleys, stomach tubes, arterial catheters, central venous catheters, right heart catheterization, mechanical ventilation, weaning from the ventilator, tracheostomy, lumbar puncture, paracentesis, thoracentesis, chest tubes, bronchoscopy and hemodialysis), making decisions about the end of life, living wills, medical futility, withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments, commonly asked questions, a guideline to advanced directives.
once you've read that, here are two more professionally related websites. one is for medical students that addresses all kinds of critical care problems. enter at your own courage!
- nurse bob's micu/icu survival guide
- critical care medicine tutorials for medical students. some of the information here is very scholarly. topics include introduction to critical care, problem orientated approach, respiratory failure, shock, renal failure and sepsis. there is a great deal of information at this site. you have to surf around, especially using the links to see what is there if you don't want to read what is on the entire site. these are links into overviews of some of the topics that might interest you. there is much more specific information on these topics at this site.
if and when you need more information about icu procedures, post a question. there are many, many more links. you can also get information from the stickys on the individual icu forums on allnurses.