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question

How is multiple organ failure treated in a the intensive care unit (ICU)?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner
answer

Multisystem organ failure is a very complex phenomena that happens to some patients who are very critically ill. There are several things that happen to  a person to make them very sick, these include: infections, ischemia (lack of oxygen to a body part), shock,  bleeding, pancreatitis, trauma, and many other injury and disease states. But what happens is these insults are so overwhelming that body function starts to shut down one organ at a time. This depends on the patient, the age, the diseas or injury, and other patient-specific factors. But the process is the same. As the organs shut down, critical care nurses and doctors can use medications and treatments to "support" the persons body and find and treat the causes. Nurses and doctors are always vigilent in looking for the signs of sepsis (infection) and for organ failure and do everything they can to prevent organ failure.

Supportive care means to support the body function that needs it. If the person cannot breathe and the lungs need support, you get a breathing tube. If you need lots of oxygen to the tissues in your body you get oxygen. If you need antibiotic, artifical nutrition, you get it. Once again, this is a very complex process and it is difficult to describe it here as it is different for every patient and very complicated.

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