An intensive care unit (ICU), or critical care unit, is located in a medical facility and contains the equipment and trained staff needed to sustain human life. The foundation of critical care involves machines that closely monitor a patient's condition around the clock. Nurses trained in intensive or critical care are often registered nurses or nurse practitioners with credentials in advanced life support or similar medical areas.
Each bed contains specialized equipment that alerts the clinical staff of changes in the patient's condition. Monitors record respiration, oxygen, heart rate and other body functions in addition to providing minute-by-minute feedback to the patient's primary care team. IV tubing is very common in most units and delivers and monitors needed medication and fluids to patients so they can get the care they need.
You'll also commonly find larger machines like ventilators and additional heart monitors in most rooms. If needed, these machines can help extend life and offer temporary support while recovery takes place. Types of catheterization, such as central and arterial catheterization, are often needed to run a direct line of medication to the main arteries in the body. When the patient is planning on being hospitalized for an extended period of time, such as in a critical care unit, this procedure minimizes multiple IV lines and frees up space for more machines in the room.