The ICU in a Veterinary Hospital

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  • 0:01 The ICU
  • 1:01 What an ICU Looks like
  • 3:04 The Goings on in an ICU
  • 3:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will describe the intensive care unit that may be found in some veterinary hospitals, what is found in one, and what kind of activity can be expected.


What do you do with patients who are too sick to go home and too sick to be left relatively unsupervised in a hospital ward? You wheel them into the ICU!

Large hospitals and emergency hospitals often times have what's known as an ICU, or intensive care unit. This is an area of the hospital where very ill or unstable patients are hospitalized, treated, and monitored.

The kinds of patients you might encounter in an ICU include:

  • Animals suffering from life threatening cardiac, that is to say pertaining to the heart, arrhythmias that are not stable
  • Patients that require oxygen therapy
  • Animals who need or are undergoing advanced nutritional support, such as the use of a feeding tube
  • Patients who need or have recently received a blood transfusion
  • Animals recovering from surgery who need prolonged and specialized monitoring and medical treatment as they recover due to unforeseen or expected complications

What an ICU Looks Like

The way an ICU looks or is organized will obviously differ in every hospital. But you can definitely expect many similarities. There will be lots of cages of many different sizes. Some will be just large enough to comfortably house a cat and others can be large enough to let a big dog stand up and walk around in.

Near the cages or hanging on the door of the cage you will often times find IV or syringe pumps. These are devices that are programmed to deliver fluids and medication to a patient in a scheduled and controlled manner. The medication or fluids are delivered IV, or intravenously. This means it goes directly into the vein of the patient.

Somewhere near the patient's cage, you'll find their medical chart, where a veterinarian has organized a very specific and detailed treatment and monitoring plan for the patient.

The medical chart will have a lot of useful information, including:

  • The patient's age, breed, and client contact information
  • The animal's important medical and surgical history
  • Any and all medication or treatments the patient is receiving or is due to receive, as well as how much should be received, how it should be administered, and when
  • A detailed plan to monitor the patient's signs throughout their stay at the ICU, including what to monitor and how often
  • What to do if a sign, such as their temperature, is above or below a certain limit

There is much more that will be found in an ICU. Things like oxygen cages, where animals can be housed for oxygen therapy. Lots of trays, cabinets, and drawers filled with emergency equipment and medical supplies.

Monitors that show important things like an animal's heart rhythm and rate using an ECG, an electrocardiogram, which is that thing that has those squiggly lines show up on screen when the heart beats.

Specialized hospital food for any number of conditions will be stocked somewhere nearby, lots of towels and cleaning supplies are sure to be there as well, among a lot of other things.

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