Critical Care Medicine

The Division of Critical Care strives to optimize outcomes for critically ill patients through multidisciplinary education, collaborative research, cutting-edge clinical service lines, and integration of patient care across the prehospital setting, the emergency department and intensive care units.

Primary Functions

  • Improve the care of patients in the first minutes to hours of their critical illness
  • Improve the care of patients boarding in the emergency department (ED) who are awaiting an inpatient ICU bed
  • Leverage knowledge and connections of the emergency medicine-critical care team toward high-impact ED and system-wide critical care initiatives
  • Educate emergency medicine residents, advanced practice providers, and physicians about state-of-the-art critical care as relevant to care in the ED
  • Educate inpatient intensivists on the value of prehospital and emergency care

Broad Footprint & Faculty

The Department of Emergency Medicine has several dually boarded faculty who staff the ED as well as the Medical ICU, Cardiothoracic ICU, Neuro ICU, Surgical ICU, eICU, Palliative Medicine, and Critical Care Transport (Med Flight).

Graduates of our emergency medicine residency program have matriculated to highly competitive critical care fellowships, and multiple current residents are on a critical care fellowship trajectory. Additionally, our high-functioning advanced practice providers have recently taken a role in our Medical ICU.

Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

ECPR & out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) outcomes at UW Health

One of very few centers in Wisconsin with ECMO capability, UW Health offers this device to provide temporary life support by circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body when the heart is not strong enough to do it alone.

Extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (ECPR) holds promise to improve outcomes for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) but requires careful patient selection, timely application, and rigorous quality assurance to be effective. UW is one of the few academic emergency departments in the nation providing this life- and brain-saving technology.

Established in 2019, the UW ECPR program has been tremendously successful⁠—the neurologically intact survival rate for OHCA victims receiving ECPR at UW is 36.3%, compared to the national average of 8.1% for conventional CPR (CCPR).

UW Health offers ECMO for children and adults. We’ve been recognized with the Gold Level Award for Excellence in Life Support by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. This award speaks to the exceptional care we provide. It also shows our commitment to staff training, equipment and collaboration.

Additional Ongoing Initiatives

The Division of Critical Care liaises closely with operational, analytics, and research teams at both the department and institutional level. As a result, we are able to efficiently effect change for the betterment of our patients. Importantly, our residents are involved in all Division initiatives, thereby ensuring academic productivity.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

eCART implementation and recalibration

eCART implementation and recalibration – leveraging validated predictive analytics to spot early patient deterioration and to help inform efficient and safe patient dispositions.

Emergency airway management

The Department of Emergency Medicine’s approach to emergency and difficult airways is robust and emulated throughout the institution. This includes novel standardized “call & response” checklists, sophisticated technology, and advanced techniques including awake fiberoptic intubation and proficient surgical airway placement. Our trainees not only become technical experts, but also well-equipped to replicate and implement these standardized advanced approaches in their future institutions.

Emergency department extubation protocol

ED extubation protocol – Aimed at identifying and facilitating potential safe extubations thereby ensuring ICU beds are available for critically ill patients in the region.

Pain, agitation, delirium (PAD) protocol

Pain, Agitation, Delirium (PAD) Protocol in the ED – Prioritizes analgesia-first and monitored sedation for intubated patients thereby reducing ventilator-days, ICU LOS, and mortality.

Resuscitation blood gas (RBG)

Resuscitation Blood Gas (RBG) – Point-of-care speed for high-impact labs while preserving a centralized lab infrastructure.

Recent news and outreach