About The Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
The care of critically ill and injured patients with life-threatening conditions is an important function of acute care hospitals and typically occurs in critical care units. Each year, more than 360,000 Canadians are admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). This number is anticipated to increase in the future as our population lives longer. The traditional goals of critical care are to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with critical illness, maintain organ function, and restore health. While improving the quality of life of surviving patients and families is key, at other times, patient-centered and family-centered palliative care is our priority.
End of Life Care:
Despite many technologic advances, death in the ICU is common. When the organ dysfunction of critical illness defies treatment, when the goals of care can no longer be met, or when life support will likely result in outcomes inconsistent with patients’ values, patients die in the ICU. The array of basic and advanced life support technologies and the mechanics of their deployment or discontinuation are complex. Withdrawal of life support precedes most deaths in the ICU and must be sensitively conducted, considering the same balance of benefits, burdens and respect for patients’ and families’ preferences that apply to other aspects of care. For these patients, and their families, compassionate end of life care is the most important care we can provide. End of life care is now a mainstream matter for quality of care agendas and research.