Introduction

Five professional groups should be considered when staffing the intensivecare unit (ICU): physicians, nurses, administrative staff, technicians, and ancillary staff. Physicians include thefollowing:

1. the medical director who is responsible for the management of the clinical affairs of the ICU;

2. intensivists who are responsible for the 24-h medical care of thepatients in the ICU;

3. intensive care fellows in training asintensivists;

4. residents undergoing regular training in intensivecare pertaining to the training program of their respectivespecialties, and who are responsible for the performance of medicalcare in the ICU under supervision.

Nurses are classified asfollows:

1. the head nurse who is responsible forthe management of the nursing affairs of the ICU;

2. intensive carenurses who are responsible for the 24-h nursing care of the patientsin the ICU;

3. nurses in training;

4. nursing helpers who areresponsible for the performance of nursing tasks under supervision.

With increasing frequency, the tasks of the medical directorand the head nurse are integrated in an intensive care directoratewhich governs both professional groups at ICU level. The functionsdescribed above for each professional group aim at covering the tasksgenerally existing in the ICU: leadership, planning, observation, judgment, decision, action, and support. The titles of suchfunctions, as well their content and diversity, may vary from countryto country.

Administrative staff consist of the following:

1. the ICU secretary who is responsible for theadministration of clinical and nursing affairs;

2. other staff, suchas data managers, may be required according to the type of work beingdone, which usually depends on (e.g.university or non-university).

3. Technicians are responsiblefor the maintenance of the equipment in the ICU (see below).Ancillary staff include cleaners andvisitors to the ICU.

The final composition of the staff isbased upon an evaluation which is discussed below. Organizational aspects

Appropriate staffing of the ICU is based upon a priorassessment of the unit taking the following into account:

1. number of beds and desired occupancy rate;

2. thenumber and case mix of patients to be admitted;

3. amount and typeof equipment and technology;

4. levels of care in the ICU.

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