Patient & Family

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What Is Critical Care?​

Critical care is medical care for patients whose illness requires close, constant watch by a team of specially trained caregivers. Most critical care takes place in an intensive care unit (ICU) or a trauma center. Both places of care contain all kinds of machines, tubes, and equipment used to treat the illness.

Feeling scared in the ICU is natural. You may be meeting the care team for the first time, or you may not recognize the care equipment. But understanding how the team and equipment improve health may help you feel more at ease. Also important is learning about treatment options, which may help you make decisions about care.


Spotlight on Life Support

Sometimes, in spite of the best treatment, a critically ill patient will not regain health. Treatment continues, but the goal shifts to making sure the patient dies in a manner as dignified and pain-free as possible. The medical care and support used to achieve this goal is called end-of-life care.

This shift in care can be scary, but end-of-life care also helps the patient and family deal with any emotional and spiritual concerns with death.

Chronic Critical Illness   
Chronic Critical Illness
Information about the causes of chronic critical illness, available treatments, and recovery.
Why Do ICU Patients Look and Act That Way?   
Why Do ICU Patients Look and Act That Way? A guide to understanding how a patient looks and acts in the ICU.
An A to Z list of critical care words and what they mean.