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Critical Care/ Intensivist

  • An Intensivist is a board-certified physician who provides special care for critically ill patients. Also known as a critical care physician, the Intensivist has advanced training and experience in treating this complex type of patient.

  • After medical school, an Intensivist completes a residency and board certification in a specialty such as surgery, internal medicine, pulmonary medicine or pediatrics, plus an additional two- to three-year fellowship and certification in critical care medicine.

  • Some of the procedures that Intensivists perform include intubations, center line placements, arterial line placements, thoracoentesis, lumbar punctures and bronchoscopies, among other procedures.

Chart & Stethoscope

How is an intensivist different from other specialists who treat critically ill patients?

  • Rather than focusing on specific body systems – like cardiologists (the heart and vascular system) or pulmonologists (the lungs and respiratory system) – Intensivists take a comprehensive approach to caring for ICU patients.

  • The Intensivist has the primary responsibility for the ICU patient’s care versus acting as a consultant, as many specialists do. In this role, he or she leads a team of caregivers who are experts in different specialties. The Intensivist also oversees the many decisions involved in a critically ill patient’s care, and coordinates all the other services the patient may need – including those from specialists.

How do Intensivists improve the quality of care in the ICU?

 When Intensivists follow the evidence-based guidelines for intensive care established by the Society of Critical Care   Medicine – including the multispecialty team approach– there are well-documented benefits that include:

  • Improved patient outcomes, including survival rates

  • Reduced complications

  • Shorter lengths of stay in the ICU

  • Enhanced medication safety

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