ICU vs ER - question

  1. Heya Folks,
    I handed the rough draft of my ICU paper to several people to proofread. They all ended up making the same assumption or asking the same question. They assumed ICU and ER were the same thing (none were medical folks - the target audience of the paper is prospective nursing students) and I realized I needed to explain the difference in the paper.

    Trouble is, I am having a REAL hard time explaining the criteria for why a person gets moved out of the ER and into ICU the way the paper requires - layman's language and "quick & to the point", almost brochure style. I've re-wtitten the paragraph more than a dozen times.

    Thanks again folks!
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    About vettech

    Joined: Jul '02; Posts: 419; Likes: 2
    Vet Critical Care Technician


  3. by   Stargazer
    Outpatient vs inpatient is the difference.

    If someone can be worked up, diagnosed, treated and safely released to home from the ER, they will be. If they need to be admitted for ongoing inpatient care and monitoring, then the question is if they need acute monitoring and care (generally speaking, a med/surg floor) or critical monitoring and care (generally speaking, ICU).
  4. by   dabestrn
    I agree with stargazer. I work in an ER. ER/Emergency department. ER is your access to ICU. You come in for a complaint to be treated. ER is meant for short term treatment and stabilization of the patient. Once treated and "stabilized", if they are ill enough, they will go to the ICU. ER typically has one RN to 4-5 patients. ICU typically has one RN for only 2 patients. The ICU patient requires more nursing observation/intervention due to severity/acuity of pt.. A lot of the time ICU pt's are intubated. Next down from ICU is telemetry unit, typically 5 pts to a RN. Next down is Med/surg which varies on pt load per RN. So, It is hard to make a breif description on the difference that you can fit in a brochure. You really need to explain the M/S and tele floors to get to the idea of an ICU. ER can see anything from a stubbed toe, small cuts, broken bone to a stroke, heart attack, CPR. Again, pt is treated/stabilized and discharged or admitted within hours. If the pt is sick enough(ie: massive stroke, requires lots of IV drip meds, shock, etc.) they will go to ICU where they will continue to be monitored and treated for days in the hope for recovery. After well enough, they will go to a step-down/tele unit then discharged to appropriate place with proper follow up care. I think ER and ICU see the most deaths of any floors. Probably ICU more than ER. I know I kinda rambled but hope I helped
  5. by   AlaskanRN
    I think both answers are good, but it seems the crucial element here is time.

    ER is intended for brief stays, to stabilize, not necessarily to cure.

    A pt may be in an ICU for an indeterminate length of time, anywhere from hours to weeks or more. It is anticipated that the pt will be there for a much longer time than they would be in an ER.
    To cure the pt in ICU would be good, but many times it is also a place to stabilize a pt so they can be moved to a place with less "Intensive Care" (eg. the Med/Surg floor).

    The big difference, as I see it, is the length of time a pt is anticipated to be in either area.

    Just MHO...
  6. by   GatorRN
    All great's my two cents..The ER is where patients can be treated for anything from flu symptoms,broken bones to heart attacks or auto accidents or when unable to get a fast appt. c regular doc. There are no beds/rooms for overnight/long term stays.

    Pts are triaged, treated and stabilized....then sent home if further treatment, observations or surgeries are not needed. Depending on the case they are sent to surgery, med/surg floors,ortho floors,etc or ICU units. ICU units care for patients who are critically ill, need very close observation, Cardiac drips, frequent neuro assessments, patients who are unstable, in need of continous pain med drips, or need life sustaining equipment such as ventilators or a crash cart/defibrillator at arms reach.

    At my hospital if a pt needs continuous morphine drips, titrated cardiac drips, or drips needed for ventilator sedation they can not go to a reg. nursing floor. Sorry if I rambled............hope this helps a little.
  7. by   hogan4736
    Laymen's terms...

    The ER is full of patients trying to convince you they are dying...

    The ICU is full of people that you are trying to help from dying...
  8. by   cmggriff

    :roll :roll :roll Gary