Hospital Universitario La Zarzuela Madrid


Intensive Care Medicine Department

Few positives can be drawn from the great disasters of humanity such as wars and epidemics. However, we must it admit that it was after World War II and particularly after the poliomyelitis epidemic that devastated northern European ries in the early 1950s that the need to Special Care Units to treat sick people whose bodies and vital organs were severely compromised, based on better knowledge of the pathophysiology of certain serious illnesses and the technological development of monitoring and life support, arose.

Since then, ICUs have been implementing and developing their work in modern hospitals, with a significant increase in the demand for beds in intensive care units in recent years due to:

  • The ageing of the population and the consequent increase in chronic and acute conditions.
  • The increase in life expectancy and quality of life expectations.
  • The development of medicine, using increasingly complex treatments which prolonged life support therapies, such that nowadays they are considered essential in the ing of all hospitals, regardless of their level.

Ultimately, they are special units patients whose life is in serious danger due to a severe problem with one or more vital organs are admitted and treated. To achieve their objectives, in addition to highly qualified medical and health personnel, ICUs have monitoring and support systems and devices for the different organs, to control and, in some cases, the of those organs when they are severely compromised.

Nowadays, nobody in the healthcare sphere doubts the progress that these units have entailed in the treatment of certain illnesses and severe pathophysiological symptoms (e.g. different types of shock, sepsis, respiratory insufficiency, severe heart disease, acute coronary syndromes, cardiac insufficiency, serious polytraumatisms, major burns, kidney failure, observation following serious operations, etc.), clearly resulting in a reduction of morbidity and mortality.

Finally, there is increasing consensus among medical professionals on the criteria for the admission of patients to these units, which must be strict, based on rational, weighted and ethical approaches, avoiding, as far as possible, admissions and treatments that do not meet the established criteria, which only lead to irresolvable problems and unnecessary suffering for patients and relatives.


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