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D. A Device Improves ICU Patient-Doctor Communications

Narrator: This is Science Today. Patients in intensive care units, who are unable to speak, can now communicate their needs and concerns to doctors and nurses using a dry-erase communication board called the EZ-Board. UCLA Medical Center nurse, Lance Patak, who developed the EZ-Board, describes how it works.

Patak: There are several columns on the board. There's an I am' column, where they can describe their state of being or their feelings I am short of breath, I am gagging, I am hot. There's a column where they can list different things they want I want my family, I want a blanket, I want to be turned and so on and so forth.

Narrator: In a research project, Patak found that the EZ-Board, which is being used in hundreds of hospitals nationwide, did more than improve ICU patient and doctor communication.

Patak: It significantly reduced levels of frustration and communication during periods of mechanical ventilation. Also, it decreases the need for pain and anxiolytic medications.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.