Intensive Care

In intensive care, the vital functions (breathing, circulation, blood coagulation, renal and hepatic function) of a severely ill or injured patient are maintained, monitored and supported. Sometimes a major surgical operation is followed by planned postoperative intensive care.

Intensive care often places great strain on the patient and is initiated only when a life-threatening situation is considered transient and the patient is likely to lead a life of satisfactory quality after recovery.

Intensive care units are staffed with intensive care specialists and highly trained specialist nurses. Patients in intensive care are treated by specialists from various fields of medicine.

Typical patient groups

Patients are typically placed in intensive care after major surgery or when they suffer from a severe, life-threatening infection or severe cardiovascular disorders. Certain disorders of the cerebral circulation may also require intensive care.

In the HUS area, the most severe cases are always treated at Töölö Hospital. Such cases include severe multiple injuries, third-degree burns and head injuries.

Patient groups requiring the most demanding care

Despite the improved treatment methods, septic shock – a serious circulatory disorder caused by severe systemic infection – continues to be a very serious condition with a poor prognosis. Serious renal dysfunction associated with an acute illness often requires renal replacement therapy provided in intensive care. Although the average length of treatment periods is merely three days, patients suffering from a serious condition may require intensive care for several weeks.

Typical forms of treatment

Mechanical ventilation used in the treatment of respiratory failure is the most common form of treatment administered in an intensive care unit (ICU). For some patients, mechanical ventilation can be delivered intermittently using a mask, but more severe cases require placing a tube in the patient's airways (tracheostomy). In addition to pain medication, tracheostomy patients often also need sedatives.

In intensive care, blood flow is usually monitored by invasive arterial blood pressure measurements and cardiac catheterisation is often required to monitor cardiac function. Pharmaceuticals and fluid therapy supporting appropriate blood flow and administered according to the data from the monitors are at the core of intensive care.

The more demanding forms of treatment include machines replacing renal function, circulatory assist devices and purifying therapies to manage liver function.

Intensive Care in the HUS area

In the HUS area, intensive care is provided at larger units where the primary disease can be addressed in addition to managing vital functions. Separate ICUs are intended for patients recovering from cardiac surgery, neurosurgery or trauma.

Less intensive therapy is administered in the high dependency units of certain specialist fields, including the Stroke Unit for neurological patients and the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) for cardiac patients. Additionally, minor vital function disorders are managed in intermediate care units located in hospitals outside the HUCH Hospital Area.