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Duke Medicine: Stabilizing the critically ill child

Posted January 2, 2012

No one willingly wants to be admitted to the hospital -- and certainly not in an emergency. Unfortunately, sometimes some young patients do need to be admitted, and it is comforting for both the children and parents to know what to will happen once they are there.

Dr. Kyle Rehder, pediatric intensivist, explains what you can expect if your child is admitted to the hospital with a critical illness.

A pediatric intensivist, or critical care physician, specializes in the stabilization and care of extremely ill children.

When a critically ill child presents for medical attention, time is truly of the essence. Whether the child is sick from injury, infection, cancer, heart disease, surgery, or some other crisis, lost minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Rapid interventions are often required to ensure the child gets blood flow and oxygen to vital organs and injured tissues. Attention must then be paid to reversing the underlying disease process that led to critical illness.

Rigorous care and monitoring continues after the initial stabilization, until the child is stable enough to be moved out of the intensive care unit.

Children with critical illness often require various types of support for their failing organs. Fortunately, pediatric intensivists also have sophisticated tools at their disposal, including different types of mechanical ventilators, medicines to keep the heart pumping and maintain blood pressure, and in extreme cases, heart-lung bypass machines.

When one system fails, state-of-the-art technology may often be used to support the patient during their recovery.

Learn more about what a pediatric intensivist does and a family-centered approach to care in the full post on Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health tips and advice every Tuesday.


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