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What Is Intensive Care?

Your loved one has been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The ICU provides special care from a team of experts.

Three health care providers around hospital bed attending to older woman.

The intensive care unit (ICU)

The intensive care unit (ICU) is also sometimes called the critical care unit. Here patients receive constant care and close monitoring. Some hospitals may have more than 1 type of ICU. These may include a medical, surgical, cardiac, neurological, or pediatric ICU. A patient may stay in the ICU a day, a week, or longer.

A team effort

Although they work as a team, each of the people caring for your loved one has special knowledge and skills. Healthcare providers plan your loved one’s care. Nurses do most of the hands-on care and monitoring. Others who may be on the healthcare team are listed below:

  • Respiratory therapists help with breathing problems.

  • Physical therapists help patients improve strength and flexibility.

  • Dietitians give advice about special eating concerns and nutrition.

  • Social workers and case managers help the family with financial concerns, resources, and insurance.

  • Clergy, such as a priest, minister, or rabbi, offer spiritual support to patients and family.

  • Other support staff assist with tasks, such as drawing blood, moving patients, or serving meals.


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