Critical Care Anesthesia | MedStar Health

What is critical care anesthesia?

A doctor tends to a critical care patient in need of anesthesiology.

When your loved one is critically ill, our experienced critical care anesthesia providers work 24/7 to minimize their pain or prepare them for emergency surgery.

Critical care is most commonly known as intensive care, which often requires pain medication, called analgesia, to help minimize discomfort in critically ill patients. Anesthesia for the critically ill is often used in treatment for emergency conditions, such as:

  • Organ failure (heart, liver, or kidney)

  • Respiratory failure or pneumonia

  • Traumatic injury

In MedStar Health’s Intensive Care Units (ICUs), our anesthesia teams are specially trained to support resuscitation, continuous monitoring, and pain management for critically ill patients.

Our critical care anesthesia providers

Our critical care providers work together to design a pain management plan that will help your loved one be as comfortable as possible in a critical care situation. Your critical care team may include:

  • Anesthesiologists

  • Burn and trauma surgeons

  • Certified anesthesiology assistants (CAAs)

  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs)

  • Intensivists

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Transplant surgeons

Our team-based approach ensures everyone involved in their care understands their needs so we can work towards their best possible outcome together.

What to expect

Depending on your loved one’s condition, they may need continuous pain medication or sedation in order to stay comfortable and safe. They may also need respiratory support to help regulate their breathing.

Critical care anesthesia services may include:

  • Advanced life support

  • Airway management

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

  • Blood transfusions

  • Pain management

Whether the patient has experienced a traumatic injury or severe burn, or needs emergency surgery, our anesthesia team uses state-of-the-art techniques to closely monitor and improve changes in:

  • Medical and surgical condition

  • Pain levels

  • Vital signs

If your loved one’s condition requires emergency surgery, our anesthesiologists, residents, and nurse anesthetists are there to minimize their pain and discomfort. We use a multimodal approach to pain management, limiting the use of opioid medicines to help ensure a safe, smooth recovery.

Our surgical specialties include:

Learn more about surgical anesthesia

An anesthesia provider will be present for the entire length of the procedure to ensure your loved one’s comfort and safety. Once surgery is complete, your loved one will be taken to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) to recover from the effects of anesthesia.

Patients are able to recover much quicker and safely today thanks to innovative technology and pain management techniques. MedStar Health follows Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) protocols to help your loved ones recover as soon as possible after critical care.

Questions to ask your anesthesia team

Critical care is often the result of unexpected trauma, so your loved ones may be there to ask questions on your behalf. They may want to ask your anesthesia team questions, such as:

  1. What kind of anesthesia will help minimize their discomfort?

  2. How long will it take for the anesthesia to wear off?

  3. Are they at risk for any adverse effects from the anesthesia?

  4. How will their pain be managed as they recover?

Our providers

A doctor and 2 nurses pose for a photo at MedStar Health.

Expert anesthesiology care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our anesthesiologists.