Critical care is a growing specialty offering increasingly
complex care for both surgical and medical patients.
Identification of patient groups requiring critical care, and
the current pattern of use, is a key requirement for our
understanding of the function of a modern intensive care
unit. Outcome analysis in intensive care is more advanced
than in any other specialty, led by the desire to identify
patients in whom the extreme cost of critical care will not be
justified by results. Recent changes to the requirements for
critical care services set out by the UK government have
broadened the scope of input for the intensivist beyond the
doors of the intensive care unit to a wider view of critical ill-
ness throughout the hospital.