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All You Need to Know About Pediatric Intensive Care Units All You Need to Know About Pediatric Intensive Care Units

All You Need to Know About Pediatric Intensive Care Units

Surya Hospital

January 04, 2024 |
9 Min Read | 321

When it comes to health emergencies, we have all heard of NICUs and ERs, and most of us have visited either of them, either as a visitor or patient. We know the drill. But there is also the PICU or Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, which is an entire world in itself. Let us explore this section and get better acquainted with pediatric intensive care units.

What is a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit?

The PICU or Pediatric Intensive Care Unit refers to a section of a hospital, which is dedicated to providing the highest level of medical care for critically ill children up to the age of 17. It is a separate area, with an entire team of staff that is dedicated solely to this purpose. What’s special about it is that the professionals working in the PICU have been trained with special skill sets and knowledge to swiftly and efficiently assess, diagnose and treat their little patients, ensuring their survival, speedy recovery, minimal pain and discomfort, and limiting the chances of disability. All patients are connected to medical devices that monitor their health and provide regular updates. They also have attached alarms in case there is any irregularity or emergency.


The PICU is not to be confused with NICU, which is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The NICU caters only to newborn infants that require extra care post birth. The PICU treats children up to the age of 17.

What are the different levels of care?

The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit operates on two levels.

  • Level II: The second level treats patients, whose cases are relatively less complicated and more stable. These patients can be treated over time and require less immediate attention than other critically ill cases.
  • Level I: The first level deals solely with patients, with complex cases that require high-level care and urgent attention.

Depending on the criticality of the child, he or she would be admitted into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in one of these levels and get treated accordingly.

When would it be required?

When do you need to take your child to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit? Here are some red flags you need to check, before you know it’s time to go to the PICU.

  • If your child has had food poisoning
  • Your child has overdosed on medication
  • The body has suffered physical trauma
  • Your child has been in a near-fatal accident
  • There is a severe infection on any part of the body
  • Your child has recently undergone a complex surgery
  • Your child is exhibiting congenital abnormalities
  • Your child has been diagnosed with autoimmune disorders

How do you pick the right PICU?

Knowing which Pediatric Intensive Care unit to pick is a big asset, especially in times of emergencies, when your child needs immediate care and attention. This is a decision you do not want to leave till the very last minute. So, here are some tips you can use to pick the right PICU for your child.

  • Experience: Check the doctor’s level of expertise. He/She should ideally have more than 3 years of specializing in Pediatric Medicine and Care and is ideally certified in the field.
  • Social Skills: The team that examines and treats your child should have bedside manners that can keep your child at ease. The medical equipment should be designed specifically for your child and not for adults.
  • Thinking on Their Feet: Your Pediatric Specialist should be able offer a wide range of treatments, while adeptly catering to your child’s immediate needs, especially in the case of injuries and critical illnesses.

It can be a very daunting experience, being a parent of a critically ill child, not knowing what to do at the time of an emergency. It’s natural to feel helpless and overwhelmed, when caring for your child and wanting to ease his or her discomfort right away. It’s even worse, when nothing you can do by yourself is helpful, and your child’s distress only increases as every minute passes by. Time is of the essence and you need to get your child professional medical help. This can be intimidating, too. But you can rest assured that if your child is required to be admitted in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he or she will receive the best medical care and attention available.

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