Key points

  • Intensive care medicine has progressed considerably and improved survival after long-term ventilation has led to a greatly increased demand for intensive care facilities.

  • Historically, intensive care units were led by anaesthetists. Increasingly, however, respiratory intensive care is supervised by respiratory physicians.

  • Respiratory intermediate care units and ventilator-weaning units are likely to grow in size and number as the number of patients surviving prolonged ventilation increases and demands on conventional intensive care units grow.

  • The technology of extracorporeal oxygenation has improved considerably and the development of an artificial lung has become a realistic prospect.

See the entire Respiratory intensive care Chapter