Pediatric Critical Care
Pediatric critical care physicians specialize in critical care medicine. If a child has an acute illness or injury that causes an unstable critical condition, a hospital-based physician with a specialty in pediatric critical care medicine provides the immediate special care that is required. With rare exceptions, pediatric critical care physicians practice in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) because urgent attention is required. Training consists of:
- 3 years of pediatric residency
- 3+ years of additional training in pediatric critical care
Pediatric critical care physicians receive certification by The American Board of Pediatrics.
Pediatric critical care doctors will diagnose children under the age of 18 with an unstable or life-threatening condition in the PICU, then treat, medicate, and monitor those children until release from the hospital. PICU stays range from a day to weeks or even months. If specialized follow-up care is needed after hospital release, the physician will refer parents to a pediatric subspecialist in the area.
Pediatric critical care doctors are trained to examine and treat children in ways that put them at ease. They use medical equipment designed specifically for children. They have the ability to elicit important information from distressed children, and they are excellent at detecting problems in children who are too young or upset to communicate.
Emergency conditions that a pediatric critical care doctor might treat include:
- High or persistent fever
- Severe infection or pain
- Respiratory illness, e.g., pneumonia, difficulty breathing, asthma
- Heart issues
- Electrolyte issues, e.g., diabetes, ketoacidosis
- Neurological issues, seizures
- Severe allergic reactions
- Injuries such as fractures, burns, or head trauma
- Poisoning or overdoses