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Critical Care Medicine

What we do

Overview of the Critical Care Medicine program |  Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)  |  Cardiac Critical Care Unit (CCCU)


Following the establishment of the PICU in 1968, by Dr Conn, in 1981 Dr. Geoffrey Barker lead us - as we became the first hospital in Canada to establish a separate Department of Critical Care Medicine. Nearly 30 per cent of the total number of beds at SickKids are designated as critical care beds. These beds are within the Department of Critical Care Medicine, the Division of Neonatology and satellite critical care areas on other wards within the hospital. Rather than providing a fragmented service, Critical Care clinicians at SickKids have realized the importance of close collaboration and communication across all critical care areas.

The Department of Critical Care Medicine at SickKids is a multidisciplinary department that contains a 41-bed Intensive Care Unit. We have 16 full time intensive care physicians, lead by Dr. Peter Laussen. The Department is part of the inter-departmental Division of Critical Care at the University of Toronto, and the Paediatric Critical Care Program is accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Each year our clinical fellowship program trains over 18 critical care physicians, and a similar number of rotating pediatric residents, international observers and other sub-specialist trainees. We have trained over 300 physicians from all five continents many of who have become leaders in their own countries.

The Department is comprised of two divisions - one of Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and one of Cardiac Critical Care Unit (CCCU). We are responsible for the Critical Care Rapid Response team that supports acutely ill and unstable patients across the entire hospital, and an outreach program that provides consultation and referral service to our colleagues in community and other regional centers.

Our mission is one of continued excellence in clinical care, research and education.


Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)

The PICU at SickKids is a multidisciplinary, quaternary, closed ICU staffed by full time staff physicians and nurses, RTs, physiotherapists, nutritionists, pharmacists and other allied health professionals. Our historical contribution includes the pioneering work and early adoption, evaluation and refinement of extracorporeal support technologies for critically ill children (HFO, CRRT, ECMO, Berlin Heart and Novalung).

We are recognized for excellent patient outcomes. Our care of patients with complex patho-physiology, such as congenital diaphragmatic hernia, is emulated around the world. We are leaders in the care of other complex patient populations including bone marrow and multi-organ transplantation As the largest PICU in Canada, our patients are from within Ontario, across Canada and other countries.

Cardiac Critical Care Unit (CCCU)

The CCCU at SickKids is the first critical care unit in Canada dedicated to the care of infants and children with heart disease.

We provide comprehensive care to over 800 patients per year with a team of specialized physicians and nurses who are dedicated to care of neonates, infants and children with heart disease. Allied health professionals including respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, physiotherapists and social workers are similarly aligned to support the needs of our patients.

We support all segments of the Labatt Family Heart Centre including the Cardiovascular Surgery program, the Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Unit, the Cardiomyopathy and Heart Failure Program, Heart Transplant Service and the Pulmonary Hypertension Service. Our outcomes are amongst the best in the world for even the most complex patients and we strive to deliver this state of the art care in a supportive family-centered environment.

See the Programs and Services section for a more detailed listing on the services provided through our two key divisions above, including the services of the Critical Care Response Team (CCRT), Acute Care Transport Services, the Organ and Tissue Donation program and more.

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