Critical Care

When a life-threatening situation arises, CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians are available 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week and provide comprehensive services for acutely ill or seriously injured children and adolescents. These board certified or board admissible pediatric subspecialists serve as medical directors for the 24-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at CHOC, the eight-bed PICU located within CHOC at Mission, and pediatric units at select Orange County hospitals.

Additionally, CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians are available for immediate consultation and intervention in the event patients admitted into other areas of the hospital experience unforeseen complications. They provide 24-hour coverage for the emergency departments at both CHOC and CHOC at Mission. If a life-threatening situation arises, they are immediately available.

Regionally Recognized for Expert, Tertiary-Level Critical Care

With more than 30 years of experience, CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians are regionally recognized for their expertise and treat critically ill patients from throughout Southern California. They treat the full spectrum of pathology and disease, from the very common to the very rare. Patients with a wide range of disorders are hospitalized in the PICU, including those with:

  • Conditions that require complex medical interventions including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)< inhaled nitric oxide, high frequency oscillatory ventilation, continuous video EEG monitoring, intracranial presure monitoring, portable CT scanning
  • Severe head injuries
  • Life-threatening disorders of the heart, lungs and central nervous system
  • Treatment of acute respiratory failure
  • Chronic conditions such as respiratory illnesses, cancer or muscular dystrophy, requiring pediatric intensive care
  • Post-surgical care and management, including cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, general pediatric surgery and orthopedic surgery

Through participation in multi-center studies of children with life-threatening respiratory failure, CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians provide the most technically advanced therapies, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), high-frequency oscillation and the use of nitric oxide. Under their leadership, CHOC has had a successful ECMO program for more than 25 years.

CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians also are integral to the CHOC Cancer, Neuroscience, Cardiac and Orthopaedic Institutes. Their services are complemented by the multidisciplinary care provided by other pediatric subspecialty physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, clinical dietitians, child psychologists and social workers at CHOC and CHOC at Mission.

According to Virtual Pediatric Systems, LLC (VPS), a national collaborative of over 200 ICUs, when compared to a cohort of 19 similar PICUs, the CHOC PICU had:

  • A Pediatric Index of Mortality 3 (PIM3) standardized mortality ratio statistically significantly lower than the VPS reference group.
  • A statistically significantly lower Standardized Length of Stay Ratio than the VPS reference group.
  • A similar percentage of unscheduled readmissions within 24 hours when compared to the VPS reference group.

24-Hour Transport Service to CHOC and CHOC at Mission

The availability of 24-hour transport services allows CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians to bring critical care directly to the patient — and then to bring the patient back safely to either CHOC or CHOC at Mission. The sophisticated and highly specialized CHOC Transport Service is the only one in the region equipped with a pediatric high frequency oscillator and state-of-the-art ventilator.

By ambulance or helicopter, our team is available to transport children from emergency rooms, hospital nurseries, pediatric facilities and physician offices from throughout the Southern California region. Non-emergent (ACLS) transport services are also available and may be arranged by calling the Pediatric Transport Team at either CHOC or CHOC at Mission.

Fellowship Program & Professional Education

In addition to direct patient care responsibilities, CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians are committed to advances in pediatric medicine through research, teaching and tertiary clinical training. In addition to teaching Residents at CHOC, they also teach fellows. CHOC Specialists Critical Care has trained over 70 critical care fellows in the past 20 years. CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians are active members in the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury and Sepsis Investigators (PALISI) Network and currently involved in multiple national clinical trials. Several of our physicians hold faculty positions in the Department of Pediatrics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship Program (CHOC/Harbor-UCLA Medical Center) is ACGME-approved and has graduated 25 board admissible pediatric intensivists during the last 10 years.

Additionally, CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians provide continuing medical education, outreach programs and consulting services to the pediatric community and to the multidisciplinary subspecialty teams at CHOC and CHOC at Mission.

Family Support and Care

CHOC Specialists Critical Care physicians are committed to the health and well-being of the children of Southern California. Medical care is provided with compassion, offering each family the necessary information to understand the child’s condition and anticipated outcome.