At last it is well established that an organized team approach for the care of all forms of acute respiratory failure is highly successful in the salvage of patients who are critically ill and otherwise might die without such a system. The concept of the organized intensive respiratory care unit is well accepted today and represents an important contribution to the care of desperately ill patients.
Two questions emerge: (1) What constitutes an adequate system for intensive respiratory care? (2) Can intensive respiratory care be efficiently and successfully practiced without an organized respiratory care facility? This editorial examines these questions.
The necessary facilities for the provision of efficient intensive respiratory care have been previously defined. Briefly, these include a geographically defined area and a physician-led professional and administrative authority, with care provided by appropriate health professional personnel (nurses and therapists). The exact design, equipment, and organizational structure of the service will vary, depending on available facilities, financial resources, staffing patterns and practice traditions. Nonetheless, a central theme is found in all reports on intensive respiratory care units. Simply stated, the message is that intensive care of the desperately ill patient with acute respiratory failure requires a system of management, and without this system the expected salvage of those with a variety of respiratory disorders does not occur.