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A Guide to Intensive Care Unit (2)


The Patients


Patients are admitted to the intensive care unit either because they require high-intensity monitoring and life support by specially trained health care providers or because they require high-intensity nursing care that cannot be provided on a general medical or surgical ward. As noted previously, surgical patients are admitted to the surgical intensive care unit and medical patients to the medical or coronary intensive care units.


Many surgical patients are admitted with medical problems such as pneumonia or sepsis.


Patients come to the ICU from several areas


Operating room (OR) or post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) -- Surgical patients who require invasive monitoring, mechanical ventilation, or resuscitation after surgery may be transported directly to the ICU from the OR or the PACU after a period of observation. Such direct transport is considered a transfer from one critical care area to another. Therefore, their ICU management is a continuation of care that they received from the anesthesiology team in the operating room or PACU.


Emergent care center (ECC) or emergency room -- Medical, surgical, trauma, or burn patients can be admitted to the ICU from the ECC or emergency room. These patients typically undergo a series of diagnostic tests prior to their transfer, and the etiology of their illness may or may not be known by the time they come to the ICU. They are admitted to manage their acute illness.


Medical or surgical ward -- Patients may be admitted to the ICU from a general medical or surgical ward. These are patients who were initially stable but who developed respiratory distress, low blood pressure, shock, cardiopulmonary arrest, or other physiologic instabilities on the ward. They require aggressive resuscitation, treatment, and invasive monitoring and are transferred to the ICU for closer observation, more frequent measurement of vital signs, invasive monitoring, or mechanical ventilation.


Other facilities -- Patients may also be transferred from another facility that does not have the resources to provide the level or type of care they require.


Common Reasons for Admission to the ICU


Respiratory compromise--Patients with respiratory distress, manifested either as an inability to oxygenate or an inability to ventilate, are transferred to the ICU for supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation. Etiologies of respiratory distress are numerous and include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary embolism, and exacerbations of chronic obstructive lung disease.


Hemodynamic compromise--Patients with hemodynamic instability are admitted for management of arrhythmias, hypotension, or hypertension. Patients with hypotension are typically resuscitated with fluid or medications (e.g., vasopressors or inotropes) to increase vascular tone. If a predetermined minimal mean blood pressure cannot be maintained, or if the patient has signs of inadequate oxygen delivery to the tissues (i.e., altered mental status, decreased urine output, cool skin, and lactic acidosis), a pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) may be inserted to monitor cardiac output. Measurements obtained from the PAC aid the clinician in deciding, for example, whether to treat the patient with more fluids to improve preload—the filling pressure of the left ventricle--or to initiate inotropes to improve contractility. In these instances, an arterial catheter is often inserted to monitor systemic blood pressure continuously. Patients with severe hypertension are generally managed with titratable intravenous medications.


Myocardial ischemia or infarction -- Patients with inadequate oxygen delivery to their myocardium are admitted for the management of angina and myocardial infarction. They may require titration of nitroglycerin, beta blockers, and morphine. Each medication can result in further complications such as hypotension, decreased heart rate, bronchospasm, or decreased respiratory drive, respectively. These patients are often candidates for thrombolytic agents and cardiac catheterization. The goal of admission, to reverse ischemia and minimize myocardial injury, requires close monitoring and rapid intervention. 医学全在线


Neurological compromise -- Patients with alterations in mental status are admitted to the ICU for frequent neurologic checks. If their condition deteriorates, they may need to have an endotracheal tube placed to protect their airway.

神经损伤—精神状态变化病人住进ICU进行频繁的神经检查。如果病情恶化,就可能需要放置气管内插管以保护气道。 医学全.在线提供

Gastrointestinal -- Patients with life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding are admitted to treat hypotension with IV fluids, blood and blood products. Diagnostic tests such as endoscopy will likely be performed to locate and treat the source of bleeding in unstable patients in the ICU.


Renal and metabolic -- Patients may be admitted for treatment of the complications of renal failure, including acidosis, volume overload, and electrolyte abnormalities. More often, patients develop renal failure in the ICU secondary to hypotension and sepsis. Treatment with careful attention to acid-base balance, electrolytes, and volume status is provided in the ICU. Other metabolic crises, such as hypercalcemia, unrelated to renal failure, may result in a patient's admission to the ICU.

肾和代谢问题—病人入院也可能是为了治疗肾衰引发的各种并发症,包括酸中毒、容量过度负荷、电解质异常等。更常见的情况是,病人在ICU时因低血压和脓毒症而继发肾衰。ICU治疗时应密切注意酸碱平衡、电解质和容积状况。其他代谢性危象如高钙血症等,尽管与肾衰无关,但也可能导致病人收住 ICU。

Postoperative -- There are many reasons for admitting patients to the ICU. They may still be on a ventilator, or they may have other invasive monitoring. They may have a history of coronary artery disease and therefore be at risk for a perioperative MI. They may have had extensive bleeding and require frequent observation. They may have had an extensive surgical procedure, including open-heart surgery, organ transplantation, vascular surgery, or general abdominal surgery. Each surgical intervention has specific perioperative issues that require observation and treatment in the ICU. Patients with trauma, orthopedic injuries, and extensive thermal injuries are also admitted to ICUs.


Transporting the Patient to the ICU:


Once it is clear that a patient requires management in the intensive care unit, the ICU personnel should be notified. An attending, fellow, or resident should call the ICU charge nurse and indicate the patient's name, illness, reason for transfer to the ICU, and immediate plans for treatment. Alerting the staff in the ICU prior to patient transport allows them to prepare for the patient's arrival. Advance communication with the ICU physician ensures that the appropriate support is available when the patient arrives. It is essential that the appropriate personnel, equipment, and monitors are available for all transfers to the ICU.


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