What is Critical Care?
Critical care (also known as Intensive Care) is the multiprofessional healthcare specialty that cares for patients with acute, life-threatening illness or injury. Most of us will experience a critical illness or injury, either as the patient, family member or friend of a patient.
Critical care can be provided wherever life is threatened – at the scene of an accident, in an ambulance, in a hospital emergency room, or in the operating room. Most critical care today, however, is delivered in highly specialized intensive care units (ICU). Various terminologies like Critical Care Unit (CCU), Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU), Coronary Care Unit (CCU) may be used to describe such services in a hospital.
Critical care is provided by multiprofessional teams of highly experienced and professional physicians, nurses, respiratory care technicians, pharmacists and other allied health professionals who use their unique expertise, ability to interpret important therapeutic information, access to highly sophisticated equipment and the services of support personnel to provide care that leads to the best outcome for the patient.
Patients are rarely admitted directly to the critical care unit. Rather, they are usually admitted from the emergency room, or surgical area where they are first given care and stabilized. The continuum of critical care begins at the moment of illness or injury and continues throughout the patient’s hospitalization, treatment and subsequent recovery.
When intensive care is needed
Intensive care is needed if someone is seriously ill and requires intensive treatment and close monitoring, or if they’re having surgery and intensive care can help them recover.
Most people on an ICU have problems with one or more organs. For example, they may be unable to breathe on their own.
There are many different conditions and situations that can mean someone needs intensive care. Some common reasons include:
- a serious accident – such as a road accident, a severe head injury, a serious fall or severe burns
- a serious short-term condition – such as a heart attack or a stroke
- a serious infection – such as sepsis (blood poisoning) or severe pneumonia
- major surgery – this can either be a planned part of your recovery, or an emergency measure if there are complications
Dr. Shaman Bhardwaj (MD Anesthesia)