Q. What is an intensivist?
A. The term “Intensivist” refers to a medical doctor who has special training and experience in treating critically ill patients. These skilled medical professionals must complete a fellowship in a subspecialty, in this case critical-care, after finishing a residency in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, anesthesia or surgery.
Q. Where do Intensivists work?
A. The Intensivist program at St. Vincent’s provides these important physicians as part of a round-the-clock, multidisciplinary team that monitors and responds to critical-care patients’ needs in the ICU. Generally, intensivists are present on-site or available on call, rather than working in an office or spending much of their time seeing non-critical-care patients in the hospital.
Q. Is this a new medical discipline?
A. Intensivists belong to a relatively new medical subspecialty. The Society of Critical Care Medicine, which was founded in 1970, is the organization for critical-care physicians, nurses, scientists and technicians.
Q. How do the duties of an intensivist differ from those of other specialists, like oncologists, who treat critically ill patients?
A. At St. Vincent’s, our intensivists focus on a complete, comprehensive plan of treatment for their ICU patients, coordinating care from the time the patient arrives in the unit after surgery or other emergency treatment, until he or she is out of danger and able to leave the ICU. As a general rule, intensivists have primary responsibility for their patients, coordinating with specialists as needed and keeping the patient’s primary care physician informed of the patient’s condition.
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