A Little Something About the Critical Care Unit

Critical caring medicine is used to provide life or organ support to patients who are critically ill or injured and require special monitoring. These patients normally suffer from respiratory or airway compromise, renal failure blood instability, or the effects of many organs failing. Patients who have not been stabilized to the point where they do not require intensive monitoring after a major are also given critical care.

This idea of critical caring has been developed as a crucial area of caring for a patient as medical technology and medicine advances. The critical care units first came after world war two to care for patients that required close monitoring and care. In those days, the patients that were most in need of care were located closest to the nursing station while the others were located further away. As a result, the patients were rotated constantly dependent on the need and the availability of beds.

Critical care nurses deal with the response of humans to life threatening traumas. To become a critical care nurse all that is required is for you to be a registered nurse (RN) and trained, obtaining a critical nursing certification is not a must. However, majority of the employers prefer nurses who have been certified in the field, as these nurses would have the skill and knowledge required for the job. To become certified a nurse must provide care for patients who are critically ill for at least 2 years and then they take the exam.

A critical care nurse is required to work under the nursing supervisor and care for the patients to which he or she has been assigned to. The tasks involves performing treatments, dispensing all medications and maintaining accurate and complete records for each patient. This nurse should be able to identify when a patient in critical care is experiencing complications, and be able to operate the different equipments in the critical care unit. This nurse is also required to help the doctors carry out procedures and treatments which is inclusive of sterile treatments.

It is recommended that each critical nurse be assigned 2 patients at most, however this may not be what happens in some hospitals depending on their staffing number. Hospitals in the United States can have up to 24% of the beds that are available for critical care patients. In this unit special and comprehensive care is provided 24/7. The rooms are built with glass walls to facilitate the constant supervision of the patients. In most cases the unit may have specified visiting time, with the visitors being restricted to family members only, so as to allow the staff to work at their optimum level without the influences from outside, compromising the care given.

Critical care doctors treat conditions that are threatening a patient’s life, organ or limb. This area is a medical specialty because it is necessary to provide instantaneous diagnosis along with managing urgent aspects of the patient’s injury or illness. Doctors in the unit must have a wide field of knowledge inclusive of trauma management, surgical skills, airway and cardiac life-support. The medicines used in critical care, include both general medicines and specialized medicines which are used to diagnose conditions and stabilize the patient.

Standards of Care For Acute and Critical Care Nursing

Acute and critical care nursing refers to care provided by nurses to patients with life-threatening conditions, working in the intensive care, critical care and emergency units. All nurses must be registered with the AACN or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, which is the national advisory body in the US for nurses and nursing staff.

Since it is the AACN who sets and regulates standards that need to be maintained when it comes to emergency and acute care, all nurses wishing to work in emergency units must first obtain an approval certificate from the AACN. As they are going to be working on critically ill patients, these nurses must pass examinations that are understandably rather tough. Nurses who wish to work in critical care units need to have thorough knowledge of pathophysiology as well as various technologies used in critical care.

The standards for qualifying for acute and emergency care nursing also demands that nurses working in these units are extremely professional and competent enough when it comes to dealing with patients, family members and doctors.

There are advanced technologies being introduced in this field regularly, like hemodynamic and cardiac monitoring systems, intra-aortic balloon pumps (IABP), mechanical ventilator therapy, ventricular assist devices (LVAD and RVAD), continuous renal replacement equipment (CRRT/CVVHDF), extracorporeal mechanical oxygenation circuits (ECMO) and other life support devices.

Apart from being familiar with the intricate functioning of the equipments mentioned above, emergency care nurses must also be well trained in handling patients in ICU, CCU, cardiac units, post operative care, high dependency units and medical evacuation teams.