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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.

THRIVE: Life After the Intensive Care Unit

THRIVE: Post-Intensive Care Syndrome

More people are surviving critical illness, leading to an increase in a condition called post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). PICS is made up of health problems that remain after critical illness. These problems can involve the patient’s body, thoughts, feelings, or mind and may affect the family. The THRIVE initiative aims to help educate patients, their families, and the healthcare community about PICS and provide resources for how to thrive after an ICU stay.

Chronic Critical Illness
Information about the causes of chronic critical illness, available treatments, and recovery.
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.