One of the hardest things for families in the hospital to understand is that there is literally nothing they can do to help if something goes wrong. Indeed, any physical aid they render is more likely to do harm than good.
While standing over an intubated patient in the CCU the other day I had the following conversation:
Family: "So what do we need to watch out for in him."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Family: "I mean what warning signs do we need to look for to see if he's having trouble breathing?"
Me: "We're breathing for him; there is nothing for you to watch out for."
Family: "Well what about his blood pressure? Do I need to alert you if that drops?"
Me: "You need to do absolutely nothing. We are monitoring every parameter that needs watching."
Family: "So, what can we do to help?"
Me: "Umm....try not to trip on any cords when you leave?"