Critical Care is a specialty that cares for patients with acute life-threatening illness. Critical Care is delivered through a highly specialized Intensive Care Unit, also known as Intensive Treatment Unit/Critical Care Unit. Patients are usually transferred to ICU after initial stabilization at emergency room, operation theatre or recovery room. Apart from Intensivists, Critical care team includes respiratory therapists, Physiotherapists, Critical care nurses, Dieticians and ICU Technicians.
The concept of Critical Care dates back to Florence Nightingale, who felt that there should be a separate area for post operative care. Shock wards were established for treatment of wounded during World War II . Practise of manual ventilation through a tube placed in the trachea was started during polio epidemic in 1947-48 in Denmark. Mechanical Ventilation was developed in1950's. Critical care has evolved over years, into a full fledged specialty managed by highly skilled professionals.
Typical examples of Critical Illness includes severe infections, heart ailments, poisoning, stroke, trauma, burns, organ failures and preterm births.
Emergency physicians stabilise patients in Emergency Room. Then patients are transferred to ICU where definitive, long term care is provided by Intensivists.
Intensivist is a Physician who is specialist in General Medicine, Anaesthesiology, Pulmonology or Pediatrics and who receive special education, training and subspecialty certification in Critical Care. Apart from medical management of patients, Intensivists have role in administration of ICU and setting policies and developing protocols.