Intensive Care Unit

An intensive care unit (ICU), sometimes referred to as the critical care unit, is the unit within the hospital that cares for critically ill patients suffering from life threatening conditions. Patients in this unit require around the clock care by a highly trained staff of doctors and nurses who are constantly monitoring their progress through a variety of high tech machines. 

It is a fast paced environment where seconds can mean the difference between life and death. Depending on the patients age and condition they will stay in a traditional ICU, or a specialized critical care unit such as the NICU or the PICU.

ICU vs. Other Units

There are several differences between ICUs and other hospital units. For example; the ICU is equipped with high tech equipment that a specialized staff of nurses and doctors must operate. Also, nurses are in charge of one or two patients in the ICU, whereas they might care for multiple in other units. This is due to the fact that critically ill patients require more meticulous care and continuous monitoring, since even the slightest change in their condition can be significant.

Common Reasons for Landing in the ICU

Not every patient that walks into the emergency room or sees a doctor ends up in the ICU. Receiving critical care and staying in an intensive care unit comes as a result of an extremely serious injury and/or condition that threatens the patient’s life. There are several conditions and situations that can cause a patient to require critical care in a specialized unit. Below find a list of some of the most common reasons that land patients in ICUs:

  • Sepsis – harmful bacteria present in tissues.
  • Brain injury – an injury to the brain which is not congenital. It occurs due to an external circumstance, like a trauma due to a car accident, or sports injury.
  • Neurological conditions – diseases of the brain, spine, and the millions of nerves that bind them. Neurological condition encompass hundreds of diseases, such as: Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and brain tumors.
  • Blood clotting – also known as coagulation, it prevents excessive bleeding, but if they form when they’re not needed, they can cause heart attacks.
  • Shock – arises from an injury or trauma and results from insufficient blood flow.
  • Stroke – brain cells begin to die because blood circulation to the brain is cut off. Sometimes known as a “brain attack.”

  • Postoperative care – the care patient’s receive following a surgical procedure.

You can learn more about Critical Care Nursing job opportunities or find more information about certifications that will take your career to the next level.