Intensive Care Unit, the name itself implies a high level of human involvement, attention to detail, focus. There’s high-tech medical equipment in ICU, to be sure, but intensive care more often means the difficult diagnostic work of assessing a patient’s evolving medical condition and responding with nuance or boldness, depending on what the red lights on a monitor display.

For Dr. Dan Navin, president of Pulmonary and Critical Care of Northwest Michigan, which runs the ICU at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, his team’s focused approach is what is in large part responsible for the ICU results that the hospital has achieved in the past decade. The clinic employs six board-certified critical-care physicians to staff the ICU from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then be available on call around the clock. A key benefit is that the critical-care physician on the ICU is dedicated to that position during the entire shift, explains Navin. “So the doctor is not having to go on rounds or being pulled away to see other patients. It’s a dedicated presence.” Studies of medical care are showing the benefits of this approach, according to Navin.

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“Shorter periods on the ventilator, shorter stays in the ICU, better survival rates,” he says. With six physicians focused on ICU care, the team is also able to keep a close watch on research specific to critical care. Navin points to a couple of key research-based changes that are evident in the day to day. The team has integrated special ventilator strategies for patients with acute lung injury and adult respiratory distress syndrome, ventilating with smaller amounts of air, which reduces lung injury. Also, the team has been deeply involved in modifying the treatment of sepsis, or septic shock, which is a potentially fatal reaction to an overwhelming infection.

A recent study called the Leapfrog Recommendations reported that having dedicated critical care physicians coordinate ICU care should be considered best practices, in part because it provided improved service and lowered the overall cost of health care, Navin says., 231-935-0440.

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