Critical care medicine specializes in caring for the most seriously ill patients. These patients are best treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) staffed by experienced personnel. Some hospitals maintain separate units for special populations (eg, cardiac, transplant, trauma, surgical, neurologic, pediatric, or neonatal patients). ICUs have a high nurse:patient ratio to provide the necessary high intensity of service, including treatment and monitoring of physiologic parameters.
Supportive care for the ICU patient includes provision of adequate nutrition Enteral Tube Nutrition Enteral tube nutrition is indicated for patients who have a functioning gastrointestinal (GI) tract but cannot ingest enough nutrients orally because they are unable or unwilling to take oral... read more and treatment and prevention of infection, stress ulcers and gastritis Prevention Erosive gastritis is gastric mucosal erosion caused by damage to mucosal defenses. It is typically acute, manifesting with bleeding, but may be subacute or chronic with few or no symptoms. Diagnosis... read more , and pulmonary embolism Prevention Pulmonary embolism (PE) is the occlusion of pulmonary arteries by thrombi that originate elsewhere, typically in the large veins of the legs or pelvis. Risk factors for pulmonary embolism are... read more . Because 15 to 25% of patients admitted to ICUs die there, physicians should know how to minimize suffering and help dying patients The Dying Patient Dying patients can have needs that differ from those of other patients. So that their needs can be met, dying patients must first be identified. Before death, patients tend to follow 1 of 3... read more maintain dignity.