Critical Care | Intensive Care

Critical care is for hospital patients with serious health problems who need intensive medical care and monitoring.

Patients in intensive care units, also called ICUs, are cared for by a team of providers that may include:

  • Specially trained nurses
  • Physicians
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Care managers
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Other providers

What is critical care?

Critical care also is called intensive care.

Critical care treatment takes place in an intensive care unit (ICU) in a hospital. Patients may have a serious illness or injury.

In the ICU, patients get round-the-clock care by a specially trained team.

Who needs critical care?

Critical care is appropriate for hospital patients of every age who are severely ill.

Patients may go to the ICU from the Emergency Department, or may move there from the general hospital ward if they become critically ill.

Examples of patients who need critical care includes those who undergo very invasive surgery or who have poor outcomes after surgery, those who are severely injured in an accident, people with serious infections, or people who have trouble breathing on their own and require a ventilator to breathe for them.

Here are some common conditions that require critical care:

  • Heart problems
  • Lung problems
  • Organ failure
  • Brain trauma
  • Blood infections (sepsis)
  • Drug-resistant infections
  • Serious injury (car crash, burns)

Patients may be moved to the hospital ward or a rehabilitation facility, after making improvements during a stay in ICU.

This does not mean that the need for medical care is gone; it means that the patient has improved beyond critical and is in stable condition.

Patients who have suffered critical illness often need significant time and a lot of rehabilitation and therapy to continue to get well.