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An ICU (intensive care unit) is a location in a medical facility staffed with specialized personnel who care for critically ill patients. Although the ICU may seem hectic, it is an organized unit that provides high quality care. 

ICU's are specially equipped hospital units that provide highly specialized care, continuous observation and monitoring of critical care patients 24 hours a day. Typically, patients are admitted to the ICU from an emergency room, from an operating room or from another area of the hospital. The care team for ICU patients comprises a multidisciplinary group of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists who have all been trained in care of critically ill or injured patients.


The following links to resources are for general information only and may not be entirely accurate in your given area – please consult local resources.

My ICU Guide 

A decision support guide for family members of patients in the ICU who are thrust into that role of making life and death decisions on behalf of their loved ones.

Must-Know Statistics about ICU Care - Plan Well

Advance serious illness planning (ASIP), Learning Centre blog library, and CPR Decision Aid Video on Plan Well Guide.

Be sure to check out the Must-know Statistics about ICU Care blog in the Learning Centre

Things to Know Before You Consent to ICU Care - Plan Well

Critical Care Dr. Daren Heyland of Plan Well explains in this 12-minute webinar the definition of an intensive care unit, discuss the kind of treatments offered and what happens to patients in ICU.

Intensive Care Guide for patients and relatives - ICU Steps

This booklet contains advice and information about intensive care. It tells you how critical illness may be treated and what recovery may be like. Not every patient will experience all of these things, but they are more likely to if they have been in intensive care for more than a few days. Most of this booklet is written for patients but there is a section specifically for relatives and visitors. By reading this booklet, relatives will learn what a patientʼs recovery may involve and it will give them the answers to some of the questions they may have. 

My ICU Care – Society of Critical Care Medicine 

Feeling scared in the ICU is natural. You may be meeting the care team for the first time, or you may not recognize the care equipment. But understanding how the team and equipment improve health may help you feel more at ease. Also important is learning about treatment options, which may help you make decisions about care. 

Cutting through the confusion - Centre for Advancing Health 

Prepared Patient, is created by the Health Behavior News Service (HBNS), part of the Center for Advancing Health. This monthly series helps Americans participate more fully in their health and health care. For more issues of the Prepared Patient series, visit the archives here.

Advanced Care Planning in Canada - Speak Up 

Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication. It is a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let people know what kind of health and personal care you would want in the future if you were unable to speak for yourself. 

CPR Decision Aids - Speak Up  

The following are decision aids to prepare patients and their families for shared decision-making about cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). 

Planning care for critically ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit - Understanding the Options   

This guide prepares you, as the substitute decision maker, to consider care options for your family members during critical illness. It will help you share your views with other family members and the healthcare team.

About the Association

The Canadian Critical Care Society (CCCS) is the National Specialty Society, representing Adult and Paediatric Critical Care Medicine physicians in Canada. The practice of Critical Care Medicine in Canada is multidisciplinary and CCCS members hold base specialty certification in anaesthesia, medicine, paediatrics, emergency medicine or surgery and some surgical subspecialties such as cardiac surgery and neurosurgery.

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