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Critical Care

Critical Care

Critical Care Course

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This course focuses on the critical care environment; patients and the nurse; and includes topics of anatomy and physiology, assessment and diagnostic tools, common disorders in the critically ill adult, and patient management principles.

Learning Objectives


  • Correlate cardiovascular assessment findings with physiologic occurrences.
  • Relate abnormal heart sounds to their typical causes.
  • Describe the assessment findings and appropriate care for the patient in heart failure.
  • Identify diagnostic findings related to myocardial infarction.
  • Discuss the effects of the ANS on the AMI patient.
  • Discuss the usefulness of various cardiac tests in determining CV function.
  • Describe the indications for nitrates, ARB, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers in the care of the cardiac patient.
  • Describe the indicators and assessment findings that help to make the diagnosis an AMI.
  • Describe the various complications and the typical interventions of AMI.


  • Differentiate between the epidural, subdural and Subarachnoid spaces
  • Identify one function for each lobe of the brain
  • State components for assessing level of consciousness.
  • Describe physical exam findings for each cranial nerve
  • Differentiate common assessment findings for a patient with a left vs. right occlusive stroke.
  • State inclusion and exclusion criteria for thrombolytic therapy in a stroke.


  • Determine risk factors for actual or potential immunocompromise in a critically ill patient.
  • Discuss nursing considerations in the care of the immunocompromised critical care patient.

Brain Death / Organ Donation

  • Identify the specific evaluations necessary for brain death pronouncement at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital.
  • Identify the health care providers role in the hospital setting with organ donation


  • Describe the four phases of intrarenal failure.
  • Identify systemic effects of chronic renal failure.


  • Describe the process to be followed for physical assessment of the abdomen.
  • Differentiate between normal and abnormal bowel sound findings
  • Identify current treatments for the critically ill patient with acute pancreatitis.
  • Discuss nursing care and treatment modalities for the critically ill patient with gastrointestinal bleeding.
  • Describe four (4) signs and symptoms of paralytic ileus.


  • Discuss the relationship between legal and ethical issues in nursing practice
  • State the requirements for informed consent


  • Describe the clinical manifestations of diabetic Ketoacidosis.
  • Prioritize the care of a patient with hypoglycemia.
  • Identify clinical manifestations of altered glucose levels.

Nutrition in the Critically Ill

  • Describe the major nutritional and metabolic alteration sin the high acuity/critically ill patient.
  • Discuss how to assess nutritional status through evaluation of laboratory test results.
  • Describe the interrelationship between nutritional services, medical and nursing care in managing the nutritional and metabolic needs of the high acuity/critically ill patient.
  • Discuss the parental and enteral methods used to provide nutrition for the critically ill patient.

Critical Care Drips and Drugs

  • Describe the indications, relative contraindications and assessment parameters of the major drug classes prescribed for the progressive care patient.


  • Describe the four steps in pulmonary gas exchange
  • Differentiate hypoxemia and hypoxia
  • Describe the four major acid-base disorders
  • Define compensation in acid-base disorders
  • Distinguish the various methods of oxygen delivery and benefits
  • Define Acute Respiratory Failure
  • Describe interventions for the management of patients with the major Restrictive and/or Obstructive Pulmonary Disorders
  • Relate the signs and symptoms of the major Restrictive and Obstructive Pulmonary Disorders to their pathophysiology


  • Nurses