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Critical care

People with life-threatening injuries and illnesses that require close monitoring usually need critical care.


Critical care involves close, constant attention by a team of specially-trained healthcare professionals. It usually takes place in an intensive care unit (ICU) but can also be provided by critical care outreach teams.


ICUs and High Dependency Units (HDUs) are challenging and pressurised environments to work in and patients in ICUs require high-intensity care. Incidents in this setting can include complications associated with invasive ventilation and central line infections.


The NRLS develops guidance for the NHS to help reduce harm to critical care patients, including:

  • The Matching Michigan initiative which aims to reduce central venous catheter associated bloodstream infections

  • The Patient Safety First Campaign features two care bundles associated with critical care

  • A Rapid Response Report to ensure that surgery is not commissioned or delivered in facilities lacking the systems and equipment to manage emergencies safely

  • A Patient Safety Alert that advises all acute trusts to standardise the crash call telephone number to 2222

Resources relating to critical care are listed below.