The Three Levels of Critical Care in Australia

Critical care in Australia is a vital part of the health care system. It is the most complex environment in which healthcare professionals work. They require highly skilled, educated, and motivated staff to provide patient safety, quality, and satisfaction.

In Australia, there are three levels of critical care that you can expect to receive during your stay in a hospital. This includes Intensive Care Unit, High Dependency Unit, and ward-based care.

This internal blog will examine the services offered at each level and give an overview of the treatments available at each stage so that you know what to expect when you are admitted.

What Is Critical Care?

Critical care medicine is a medical specialty focused on assessing and treating critically ill patients who require life-supporting interventions. They develop and implement treatment plans that provide maximal benefit to the patient while minimising harm; they also supervise less experienced members of the healthcare team. In a critical care unit, healthcare providers use lots of medical and surgical supplies to provide the highest medical care to patients diagnosed with critical illness or injury.

Various health professionals and allied health staff provide critical care in several different settings. This includes intensive care units (ICUs), high dependency units (HDUs), and general medical wards. Other types of critical care are provided in the community, such as emergency departments or hospitals without intensive care facilities.

The nurse-to-patient ratio is the key differentiator between intensive care and high-dependency care. The ratio of nurses to patients in the intensive care unit is one-to-one, whereas, in the high-dependency unit, it's one nurse for every two patients. On the other hand, on a typical ward, two registered nurses may be responsible for up to thirty patients.

Who Needs Critical Care?

Some people will be admitted directly to a critical care unit from the hospital emergency department (ED). Others may need to be transferred from other hospital areas, such as intensive care units (ICU) or surgical wards.

Some people who need critical care include:

  • Those who have had an accident or have suffered trauma such as burns or fractures
  • Those with serious infections such as pneumonia or sepsis
  • Those who have had surgery or a major medical procedure

Other common reasons someone might need critical care include the following:

  • cardiac arrest (heart attack)
  • respiratory failure
  • infection
  • stroke
  • severe head injury
  • brain hemorrhage
  • severe burns
  • kidney failure
  • seizures (epilepsy)
  • heart rhythm disturbances
  • spinal cord injuries

Levels of Critical Care in Australia

There are three levels of critical care available in Australia. These are:

Level 1

Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Here patients require continuous monitoring and treatment by highly trained medical staff. Intensive Care Units provide life support, including mechanical ventilation, intravenous access, and medications to treat infections and other complications.

In the intensive care unit (ICU), patients are often hooked up to various equipment, the most frequent of which are heart monitors and artificial ventilators (when patients can't breathe on their own). The devices in an intensive care unit (ICU) often generate piercing beeping noises and other alarms to alert medical workers to changes in a patient's condition.

In addition, the patient probably has several tubes going in and out of their body, either delivering or removing fluids and nutrients.

In the intensive care unit, there is a large number of doctors and nurses. A trained nurse is assigned to each patient and routinely examines all vital signs and other systems supporting the patient's life. The ICU often has its nursing station where medical staff can be called if needed urgently.

Level 2

High Dependency Unit (HDU). High Dependency Units (HDUs) are a type of intermediate care facility found in some hospitals. Higher Dependency Units (HDUs) are wards for patients who require more extensive monitoring, therapy, and nursing care than is typically provided in a regular ward but less than what is provided in intensive care. HDUs can be located within an intensive care unit or exist as separate areas within a hospital or healthcare facility.

There may be fewer nurses per patient than in intensive care, but there will still be more than in most ordinary wards. The patient stays at HDU might range from a few days to weeks or months, depending on the severity of their disease and the unit's current patient load.

Level 3

General Medical Wards. General medical wards receive patients who need 24-hour monitoring with support from nursing staff rather than continuous critical care. Here people stay overnight or longer while they recover from surgery or other procedures or are treated for an illness that isn't life-threatening but needs more care than an emergency room can offer. These patients tend to be stable enough to be transferred to another ward once they're better enough to be moved safely, so they don't receive ongoing intensive treatment such as mechanical ventilation or dialysis. There may be more than one general hospital ward at each hospital, depending on how many beds it has available and how sick the patients are.

Bottom Line

Critical care is a field that requires specialised equipment and supplies, as well as a full understanding of the process. At Paragon Care, we provide medical and surgical supplies to help healthcare professionals go through every step of the way. We offer you the best medical equipment for your critical care needs.

If you have any questions about our services or would like to request a quote, please feel free to contact us today.