Intensive care is usually provided in a hospital in an intensive care unit. During the stay in an intensive care unit, life-threatening conditions are to be diagnosed and treated. In most hospitals, these highly specialized wards are additionally subdivided according to specialist disciplines (e.g. neuro-intensive wards for neurological diseases, cardio-intensive wards for acutely life-threatening diseases of the heart).
Intensive care units have particularly sophisticated equipment and a high ratio of specialist staff to patients. The medical staff working in these wards have often completed appropriate specialist training, while nursing staff members also usually have specialist nursing training. An essential aspect of intensive care medicine is a detailed continuous monitoring of all vital functions, such as heartbeat, heart rate, blood circulation, oxygen content in the blood, consciousness, etc. Further cornerstones of intensive care medicine are artificial coma, artificial respiration of the patient by means of respirators, pain therapy and maintenance and stabilization of all vital functions.