A specially equipped hospital space dedicated to the care of patients in a critical condition, usually caused by acute organ dysfunction or failure.
Staffed by skilled multidisciplinary teams called medical intensivists and other personnel, ICUs use a range of technologies to support failing organ systems, particularly the lungs (see ARDS), the cardiovascular system, and the renal system.
In many countries, ICUs have been overwhelmed by the high number of severe COVID-19 cases. Some have struggled with insufficient staff and inadequate resources such as medical supplies, ventilators and PPE. Step-down units – to which improved ICU patients are transferred – have been converted into ICUs to handle the load. To ensure ICU bed capacity is not overburdened all elective surgery and non-essential surgical services are postponed to redirect available resources to critical care.