Also called: Intensive care

People with life-threatening injuries and illnesses need critical care. Critical care involves close, constant attention by a team of specially-trained health professionals. It usually takes place in an intensive care unit (ICU) or trauma center. Problems that might need critical care treatment include complications from surgery, accidents, infections and severe breathing problems. Monitors, intravenous (IV) tubes, feeding tubes, catheters, ventilators and other equipment are common in critical care units. These can sustain life but can also increase the risk of infection. While patients may recover, death is a possibility for people in critical care. Communication with health care providers and family members is an important part of making end-of-life decisions.