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Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

What is an Intensive Care Unit (ICU)?

An Intensive Care Unit (ICU) offers the critical care and life support needed for injured and acutely ill patients. It accomplishes this with team members that include highly skilled doctors, nurses, and specialists.

Through this organized system, ICUs can provide:

  • Enhanced capacity for monitoring
  • Specialized and intensive medical and nursing care
  • Multiple modalities of physiologic organ support

Besides emergency admissions, admittance into the ICU requires a referral from a doctor or specialist.

What role does an ICU play in patient health?

An ICU specializes in care for many injuries and health conditions, which can include:

  • severe burns
  • major trauma
  • complex spinal surgery
  • respiratory failure
  • cardiothoracic surgery
  • organ transplants

Different level ICUs offer different levels of care:

  • A level 1 ICU can provide oxygen, more intensive nursing care than a ward, and non-invasive monitoring.
  • A level 2 ICU offers basic life support for a short amount of time and invasive monitoring.
  • A level 3 ICU is the highest level and offers a full spectrum of life support technologies and monitoring.

Admission into an ICU may be planned, such as following surgery, or unexpected, such as after an accident or due to critical health deterioration.