Hospitals can be intimidating, and the alphabet soup of specialized departments can be especially confusing. Two of the areas treating the most critically ill patients are the ICU and CCU. The ICU, or Intensive Care Unit, cares for the critically ill patient. The CCU is an acronym that can stand for Coronary Care Unit, Cardiac Care Unit or Critical Care Unit. Critical Care Unit is simply another name for an ICU. Typically, however, the "C" in CCU stands for Coronary or Cardiac, with the unit set up to treat various cardiac conditions requiring continuous monitoring and treatment. All of the departments come equipped with highly trained medical and nursing staff and necessary equipment to provide much needed care for the patient.
The primary focus in the ICU is to provide constant care for patients who may have major organ failure. It is a place where it is necessary for medications to be monitored. Patients might also require breathing treatments such as intubation, in which a breathing tube is placed in the airway. The condition of patients in ICU requires rapid decision making and swift administration of appropriate treatment. There is often a risk of complications following surgery. That is why many patients in the ICU are post surgical patients, especially if the surgery was particularly traumatic.
The CCU (Cardiac/Coronary Care Unit)
The CCU`s primary center of attention is the heart. The CCU provides specialized care for the patient who has been admitted to a hospital with a heart attack, heart related complications or for cardiac surgery. The staff in this unit are specifically trained to care and monitor patients with various types of heart conditions.
The Structure of the ICU
The patient being cared for in the ICU is under constant observation by health care providers. The nurses' station is structured to allow for constant visual monitoring of the patient. Ample space allows life-saving equipment to be easily accessible. Traffic flow and visitation by family members is limited to cut down on noise, allow much needed rest for the patient to improve chances of recovery and to eliminate germs which could potentially place the vulnerable patient at risk of infection.
The Structure of the CCU
There are many similarities between the structure of both the ICU and CCU. Both are designed to limit stress for the critically ill patient. Visitation in the CCU is restricted to family members only and visiting hours are limited to a few, brief, identifiable time periods per day. Close monitoring of the heart patient is necessary, so heart monitors are connected to all patients. These monitoring devices elicit constant beeps and buzzes. Some patients may also require ventilators. Such devices coupled with the constant movement of staff can make both the CCU and ICU noisy and active, which may conflict with the goal of stress reduction, according to studies in journals like Environment and Behavior (1998).
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