An ICU is an organized system for the provision of care to critically ill patients that provides intensive and specialized medical and nursing care, an enhanced capacity for monitoring, and multiple modalities of physiologic organ support to sustain life during a period of life-threatening organ system insufficiency.

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.

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)