Calming patients in the ICU

Waking up at an intensive care unit can be terrifying for many patients. The ICU at one of the largest emergency hospitals in Stockholm uses Care to Translate to calm patients that don’t know the language.


The hospital, located in Stockholm, is one of the largest emergency hospitals in Sweden. They also provide medical training and research on our most common public diseases. Care to Translate spoke to the Care Unit Manager at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), about their experience using Care to Translate. 

The problem

In the intensive care unit, they do so-called daily wake-up of sedated patients. Every day, patients are awakened to check that nothing has changed in their functions. For example, they check that patients understand what we are saying, that they can squeeze their hands, move their toes, etc. 

Often, patients have relatives with them in the ICU, who translates during wake-ups.. Even though relatives "aren't meant to be used as translators”, they prefer to have family present so that the patient can hear a familiar voice.

Sometimes they get patients who don't have any family close by. In those situations, staff previously turned to Google Translate, simply due to the lack of other tools. Interpretation services are used at the unit, but if the patient is awake and the staff needs to ask open-ended questions in a longer, more in-depth conversation.


How the app is used 

The app is mainly used for the daily wake-ups. The Care Unit Manager shares an experience where they had a patient who didn't know the language and had no relatives in the country:

“He was sedated, and when we woke him up, he was naturally terrified. He didn’t know what had happened to him; he had tubes in his throat, and he could barely move. Then we used the app to explain to him in his language that he was in the hospital and that he had been in an accident. In situations like that, it is a great tool to have. It really helped to calm him down.”

The ICU doesn’t use the app on so many patients each month, but when they do, it is very frequent. Imagine that a patient is admitted for 2 weeks, then they have a need to use it on a daily basis.


Why they chose Care to Translate

The Care Unit Manager explains that Care to Translate is great for checking on the patients when they need a simple yes or no answer (rather than long explanations or answers). They see it as a safer, more accurate alternative to Google Translate.

 “The app is also very easy to use. There are many languages to choose from, and it's easy to search and use phrases. I don’t think it would be possible to make it any easier to use.” 

The results

What the staff like most about Care to Translate is mainly that they can see that patients feel calmer. But it also helped the staff.

"It has relieved our stress since it is really frustrating to be with a patient and not be able to communicate and tell them that we are trying to help them."

Care to Translate is very proud to support the hospital and their patients, making a stressful hospital experience a little bit easier. 

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