In 1970, 29 physicians with a major interest in the care of the critically ill met in Los Angeles to form an organization committed to meeting the needs of such patients. Today, the fruit of their labor -- the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation -- continues to grow and support all members of the critical care community.
The Chicago-based Society is the leading organization dedicated to ensuring excellence and consistency in the practice of critical care. From heart attack and stroke, to severe respiratory insufficiency, overwhelming infection, burns and gunshot wounds, the SCCM recognizes the unique needs of the critically ill patient of any age -- infant to adult -- and strives to secure the highest quality care for all patients facing life-threatening conditions.
Critical care evolved from a historical recognition that patients with acute, life-threatening illness or injury could be better treated if they were grouped into specific areas of the hospital.
1850s – Florence Nightingale wrote about the advantages of establishing a separate area of the hospital for patients recovering from surgery.
1923 – Intensive care was initiated in the United States when Dr. W.E. Dandy opened a three-bed unit for postoperative neurosurgical patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
1927 – The first hospital center for premature infant care was established at the Sarah Morris Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.
World War II – Shock wards were established to resuscitate and care for soldiers injured in battle or undergoing surgery.
Post-World War II – The nursing shortage that followed the war forced the clustering of postoperative patients in recovery rooms to ensure attentive care. The obvious benefits in improved patient care resulted in the spread of recovery rooms to nearly every hospital by 1960.
1947-1948 – The polio epidemic resulted in breakthrough treatment for patients dying of respiratory paralysis. In Denmark, manual ventilation was accomplished, and patients with respiratory paralysis and/or acute circulatory failure were given intensive nursing care.
1950s – The development of mechanical ventilation led to the organization of respiratory intensive care units (ICUs) to facilitate effective and efficient care delivery. General ICUs for very sick patients, including postoperative patients, were developed for similar reasons.
1958 – Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, in Baltimore City Hospitals, became the first multidisciplinary ICU in the United States. It was covered by an in-house physician 24 hours daily, 7 days a week and led the way for optimal, constant medical and nursing care to critically ill patients.
Late 1960s – Most US hospitals had at least one ICU.
1970 – Physicians with a major interest in the care of the critically ill and injured met in Los Angeles, California, to discuss the formation of an organization committed to meeting the needs of critical care patients: the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
1986 – The American Board of Medical Specialties approved a certification of special competence in critical care for the four primary boards: anesthesiology, internal medicine, pediatrics, and surgery.
1990-present – Critical care significantly reduces in-hospital time as well as costs incurred by patients with diseases such as cerebrovascular insufficiency and respiratory failure.
1997 – More than 5,000 ICUs were operational across the United States.