How the spaces are organised
High technology devices are aimed to control the heart rate or breathing paths and to sustain vital functions when needed. The ICU wards are generally wide and open spaces; this is because of the need to control and look after several patients at the same time both in ordinary and emergency situations. Sliding glass doors or other similar solutions make the management of the patients easier and the access to the their beds faster.
Specialistic Intensive Care Units
In the general ICU the staff take care of patients affected from a wide variety of pathologies. However, there are some ICUs that dedicate themselves solely or particularly to some given diseases: they are the specialistic Intensive Care Units.
The main kinds of specialistic ICUs are the cardiology, neurosurgery and paediatrics ones.
Cardiology ICUs: they are aimed to take care of patients who underwent to cardio-surgery and of persons whose main disease afflicts their heart or cardiovascular system.
Neurosurgery ICUs: they are aimed to take care of patients affected from neurological diseases that might be life-threatening such as wide strokes, cerebral bleeding, cerebral tumours, head and spinal cord injuries. The assistance given after major neurosurgery plays an important role. Generally, most of the patients hospitalized in these wards are in a coma or deeply sedated and are connected to specific monitoring systems that are rarely present in the general ICUs.
Paediatrics / neonatal ICUs: they are aimed to take care of children affected from very severe diseases that must be treated with particular technical supports and cutting-edge technologies. The age of these patients makes necessary their hospitalisation in a ward equipped with specific devices and specialised staff used to get along with children.
What kind of machines do you find and what's their purpose
The presence of machines and devices around the patient's bed defines the ICUs. In the page "understanding the patient unit" you can find a description of all the devices that are around an ICU bed, which are essential to keep in the right balance the patient's vital functions. Some of these machines and devices, for istance, might produce sounds to underline a normal breathing activity. It's therefore important not to be impressed by the sounds and lights or by the many numbers that are displayed.
Where the ICU is located inside the hospital
The ICU is normally placed close to the Emergency department and the Operation Ward. It has a specific entrance for the relatives, whilst the patients and the health care staff go inside through the main entrance, also used to access other departments that are essential for the treatment of high risk patients such as the laboratory, the transfusions centre or the Emergency Radiology Department.