Neuro-critical care is a relatively new subspecialty of Neurology. It is a team-oriented specialty. The team provides expert care for critically ill neurological and neurosurgical patients. These patients are unique and different from other critical care patients since, frequently, their only organ dysfunction is in the brain. Thus, treatment goals are primarily directed toward brain protection.
Recent studies have indicated that the specialized teams in neuro-critical care units provide improvements in survival, patient outcomes, and intensive care unit (ICU) resource utilization when compared with general ICUs managing patients with critical neurological illnesses and injuries.
Neurointensivists and neurocritical care nurses are experts in both critical care and neurologic disorders. they are specially trained to recognize when brain and spinal cord injured individuals have unique physiologic needs not present in other critically ill patients. The presence of a well-trained neuro-critical care team redirects the ICU culture to become highly focused on neuroprotection. Treatment targets like blood pressure and temperature are all consistently directed at preventing progression of neurological injury. The team is well-prepared to manage non-neurologic organ dysfunctions while addressing the needs of the injured nervous system.
Through regularly scheduled team rounds, our well-trained ancillary neuro-critical care staff is keenly aware of the unique therapeutic goals for each patient. For example, our respiratory therapists understand the nuances of carbon dioxide levels in the blood and its effect on intracranial pressure.
Most importantly, the families of brain and spinal cord injured patients have unique needs because of the sudden nature and serious implications of the conditions we treat. A supportive and caring environment for families is critically important in achieving the best possible outcomes for our patients. Our physicians, under our leadership and in collaboration with the well trained team of associates at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital and Abrazo Central Campus have created advanced neuro-critical care units. We are very passionate about what we do.