What is a PICU?

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Caring for a critically ill child can be stressful and difficult. This is especially true when your child is admitted into a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. However, what can help in times like these is an understanding of the PICU and its workings. Understanding the functioning of a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit can help ease some of the stress during the time of your child’s admission.

So, what exactly is a PICU, and what does it involve? Let’s find out.

What’s a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)?

It is a section of the hospital that provides sick children with the highest level of medical care. The unit differs from other sections of the hospital, like the general medical floors. A PICU comes with intensive nursing care and continuous monitoring of aspects like breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure of the child.

The Paediatric Intensive Care Unit also allows the medical staff to provide medical therapies that might not be available in other sections of the hospital. Some of these intensive therapies include ventilators (breathing machines) and certain medicines that can be offered only under close supervision.

Who gets admitted?

Any critically ill patient, from newborns to young adults, can be admitted into the PICU, although, infants that have just been born are sent to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Most patients are under the age of eighteen. Some, with rare diseases, might be a tad bit older.

What’s so special about a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit?

At this unit, the physicians, nurses and specialists have considerable knowledge and skillsets to assess, diagnose and treat your child well to have the best possible outcome. The primary objective is to enhance survival, augment recovery, minimise pain and mitigate any risk of disability. Some PICUs may also come with the latest technology and infrastructure to enable superlative treatment plans rooted in globally aligned innovations.

When is a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit needed?

It is usually needed to handle post-operative care or treat serious injuries and illnesses that include:

  1. Congenital abnormalities
  2. Autoimmune disorders
  3. Complex surgery
  4. Severe infection
  5. Physical trauma
  6. Medication overdose
  7. Food poisoning

Who takes care of kids in a PICU?

A PICU comes with highly skilled professionals. Nurses working at a PICU are experienced at caring for the sickest children at the hospital. Different physicians will care for your child, along with the attending physician in charge. Other subspecialists such as cardiologists and neurosurgeons will also be involved, depending on the needs of your child. Respiratory therapists are experienced in ventilators and other breathing equipment and are often involved in the care of PICU patients with breathing problems.

The unit might also have pharmacists, nutritionists, occupational therapists and physical therapists who will be participating in your child’s care. A group of doctors, nurses and others might be walking from one patient to another, planning the medical care for each patient. Parents might also have to adhere to rules like staying in the child’s room as instructed and to not enter or exit the PICU. This can help protect the privacy of other patients.

Just like how a NICU takes specialised care of a newborn baby, a PICU takes care of children with health problems and serious issues. Find out the details of the PICU at your hospital to ensure that your child gets the best of care at the right time.