The coma ward is a segregated area in the hospital for the care of patients in a deep and near permanent non-responsive state, but who persist with solid vital signs. It does not just include patients in a true coma, but also those in a persistent vegetative state.
Regular, conscious patients, and patients with poor vital signs require a constant on-call presence of either doctors or nurses or both. Coma ward patients do require regular scheduled care, but usually do not require anything more than remote monitoring of vital signs in the event of emergencies.
Patients in this ward do pose special challenges:
- They cannot feed themselves, and must be fed using a feeding tube or an intravenous line.
- They have no control over their bladders or bowels, and as such have to be monitored for waste removal.
- They need to be moved on a regular basis (to prevent bedsores), and bathed every few days.
Not all the unresponsive patients in the hospital reside in the ward. Several have private or semi-private rooms. This tends to be where House has his lunch, hides from Cuddy or Wilson and catches up on his television shows.