The heart of the Section of Critical Care is the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). The 30 bed unit is housed within the state-of-the-art Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. The PICU is a multidisciplinary unit that admits the complete range of medical and surgical pediatric patients requiring intensive care.
Critically ill children are supported by advanced technologies such as: high frequency oscillatory ventilation which may reduce ventilator-induced lung injury; open lung/low tidal volume ventilation for respiratory failure; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a type of longer-term heart-lung bypass; nitric oxide for respiratory failure; helium-oxygen mixtures for asthma; and complete dialysis services.
A multidisciplinary approach is utilized to provide patient-family centered care in the PICU. In addition to the physicians, the team consists of additional supportive staff members whose primary or sole assignment is to provide care and support for patients and their families admitted to the PICU. Included are staff nurses, advance practice nurses, nurse educators, a full-time social worker, a full-time chaplain, certified child life specialists, case managers, pharmacists and respiratory therapists. Individuals from these diverse specialty areas work together effectively to provide care that extends well beyond that which is required for the medical/surgical condition at hand.
Mortality rates in the PICU are significantly lower than the national average. While the mortality rate in most PICUs is between 4 and 7 percent, the mortality rate in the PICU at the University of Chicago is between 2 and 3 percent.