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Northwest Medical Center

Critical Care

About Critical Care

Some patients come into the hospital with very serious injuries or medical conditions. In some cases their bodies are not capable of functioning efficiently enough to keep the patient alive. Patients in such a state need advanced medical care from a specially trained staff of doctors and nurses. These patients receive care in critical care units, or as you may have heard them called intensive care units. Critical care units represent a hospital’s ability to treat the most seriously affected and medically unstable patients. While they are sometimes specialized, many critical care units are equipped to treat patients with multiple medical problems.

Advanced Medical Equipment

Critical Care Departments have specially trained staff and an abundance of medical equipment. The equipment in a critical care department can monitor patients’ status, provide their bodies with needed medication and even perform life sustaining bodily functions in the event that their bodies are incapable. Many of the patients in the unit will be hooked up to at least one piece of advanced equipment. It is likely that they will be connected to the equipment via various tubes, IVs and catheters. The equipment helps both the patient and the staff. By constantly monitoring a patient’s vital signs, the staff can immediately be alerted if the patient’s status declines and warrants immediate attention.

Treatment in the ICU

While many patients will be housed in a critical care unit for different reasons they can all expect the same high level of medical care. Patients are constantly monitored by equipment and staff. The most effective treatment options are decided upon. If a patient is conscious and of sound mind, they will be directly involved in deciding upon treatment options. As many patients in the critical care unit may not be conscious, their families will be in communication with doctors and play an active role in deciding upon treatment options. In the event that the patient is unable, they have no family or the situation requires an immediate decision to save the patient, the doctors will make the decision based upon what is best for the patient. If there are particular treatments that you are personally opposed to receiving, it is possible to avoid them with the creation of a living will or other “advanced directive” which specifically dictates which treatments you do not want to receive.

Most if not all of the patients in the ICU will be treated with drugs. In some cases the drugs will be used to alter the state of their bodies and advance treatment. In other cases the drugs are intended to relieve the patients of pain that is associated with their medical conditions or a side effect of their treatments. Often the drugs are sedatives, which means that they will cause the patients to be very tired and in some cases even fatigued. For this reason many of the patients in the critical care unit spend their days in and out of consciousness. This may seem like a bad thing to some who are new to this level of medical care but keep in mind that patients are sent to the critical care unit because they are suffering from very serious medical conditions.  In light of this, treatment options must include some methods that put the patient in what may seem to be a less than desirable state. Consider that without the drug treatments many of the patients would not survive their injuries. Everything that doctors do for patients in a critical care situation is directly aimed at saving their lives and restoring the best quality of life possible considering their situation.


Patients come to the critical care unit for serious, even grave, medical conditions. As a result many times the atmosphere in the critical care unit may seem to be more repressed or even stoic. While the staff knows that it is part of their role to comfort and reassure both patients and their loved ones the conditions of the patients usually calls for a respectful and solemn environment.