Critical condition

What is critical condition?

If a patient is in critical condition, that patient is under serious medical duress, and one or multiple of their vital signs, including but not limited to respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate, are significantly outside of normal values. There is no universally agreed-upon definition of critical condition; determining the patient’s condition is up to the healthcare professional in charge of providing care for the patient. 

In many cases, a patient in critical condition will be moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), where that individual may receive certain life-saving medical treatments, such as the use of a ventilator or feeding tubes. While in critical condition, a patient may or may not be conscious. 

Why is critical condition important in healthcare?

Quickly stating the condition of a patient is important in a fast-paced hospital setting. For example, if a healthcare professional hears that a patient has moved from serious condition to critical condition, they know that immediate attention is likely required. 

Referring to a patient as in critical condition is also helpful if healthcare professionals wish to provide an update on the patient’s status to a loved one without causing the loved one unnecessary stress by explaining all of the details.