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BHUMIKA MEHTA

4th year
Types of Hospital Units
Hospitals have many different types of units, which provide different types of care and services for
patients. Broadly, hospital inpatient units can be separated into two categories, based on the level (or
acuity) of care they provide.
Intensive Care Units
An intensive care unit (ICU) is an area of the hospital where the most seriously ill patients receive
specialized care such as intensive monitoring and advanced life support. You might also hear people
call an ICU a critical care unit, intensive therapy unit, or intensive treatment unit.
The most common kinds of intensive care units are:
Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) which provide care for newborn infants
Pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) which provide care for young children
Coronary care and cardiothoracic units (CCUs/CTUs) which provide care for heart attack or heart
surgery patients
Surgical intensive care units (SICUs) which provide care for other surgical patients
Medical intensive care units (MICUs) which provide care for other patients with medical conditions but
who do not require surgery
Long term intensive care units (LTAC ICUs) which provide care for prolonged critical care needs patients
There are other kinds of ICUs as well, which provide specialty care (such as burn, trauma or
neurosurgical treatments). Patients in some types of ICUs are more likely to get infections than in
other types of ICUs. For example, premature babies in NICUs have a higher risk of infection than
children in PICUs. This is because the immune system of a premature baby is not as developed and
can’t fight infections as well.
For Washington State central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) reporting, hospitals use
ICU types defined by CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). For our annual reports of
infection rate comparisons in ICUs, we compare the same types of hospital ICUs across hospitals. See
the Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections section on our Statistical Methods page for more
information.
Non-Intensive Care Units
These units provide a lower acuity of care than ICUs, because the patients are less sick. They often
make up the majority of beds in a hospital. Some of these units may be called wards.
Some common kinds of non-ICU units are:
Neonatal units which provide care for ill premature infants and neonates
Women and infant health units which provide care before, during and after childbirth (perinatal) for
mothers and for well newborn babies
Pediatric units which provide care for children younger than 19 years old
Post critical care (or step down) units which care for patients no longer needing ICU level care
Oncology units which provide care for patients with cancer and immune system disorders
Surgical units which provide care for pre- and post-surgical patients, and/or which may specialize in
certain types of surgery (like orthopedic joint surgery)
Medical units which provide care for conditions like stroke, heart-attack or pneumonia
Rehabilitation wards which provide care to improve mental or physical function after injury or trauma
Long term care wards which provide care to patients for an extended period of time
There are many types of non-ICU units which provide specialty care (such as burn or oncology wards).
Patients in some types of wards may be more likely to get infections than in other types of wards. For
example, oncology patients have a higher risk of infection than medical ward patients. This is because
the immune system of a person being treated for cancer may be weak due to treatment, and can’t
fight infections as well.
For Washington State central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) reporting, hospitals use
unit types defined by CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). For our annual reports of
infection rate comparisons in non-ICUs, we combine data from similar NHSN unit types in a hospital
and compare those groups of units across hospitals.