Origins of the Critically Ill: The Impetus for Critical Care Medicine

  • Matthew R. RosengartEmail author
  • Michael R. Pinsky
Part of the Respiratory Medicine book series (RM, volume 18)


The history of the organization of critical care medicine mirrors the evolution of modern medicine as it has evolved into the management of acute illness. This acute, highly specialized care is provided by anesthesiologists, surgeons, and internists, and its origins can be found within these specialties. Critical care medicine is often associated with complex life-saving treatments, and thus we can track the origins of critical care medicine to the treatment of respiratory failure with mechanical ventilation, severe infections to antiseptic treatments and antibiotics, and cardiovascular insufficiency to hemodynamic monitoring and pharmacologic support. But critical care medicine embodies more than a collection of treatments. It is a health care delivery process demanding specially skilled health care providers (physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and physical therapists) within an organizational framework that titrates often conflicting treatments, minimizes potential treatment errors, and promotes the safe and efficient application of appropriate and timely care.


Critical care medicine Intensive care unit Mechanical ventilation Antisepsis Hemodynamic monitoring Cecil Drinker Joseph Lister H.J.C. Swan William Ganz 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Surgery and Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Critical Care MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical CenterPittsburghUSA

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