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What is a High Dependency Unit (HDU)?

He gives examples of the types of conditions that may lead to to HDU admission. Many patients are admitted after major surgery.
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This is one of our bed spaces in the high dependency unit, which is part of the critical care unit in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. There are two intensive care units, three surgical high dependency units, and one medical high dependency unit, with each unit having a 10-bed capacity. Today I’m going to show you around our high dependency unit, also known as HDUs, which are known to provide what we call level-2 care. This means a typical surgical patient who is admitted to our HDU would be in the immediate post-operative phase, require hourly observations, or are receiving single organ support. This level of care is more than can be provided on a normal ward.
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For example, we often admit patients who have undergone major abdominal surgery for a period of time before they are fit to be transferred to the ward. If a patient acquires pain relief after abdominal surgery in the form of an epidural, then they would also have to remain on the unit until they no longer require this. A typical medical patient who would be admitted to our HDU would be one who requires single organ support. For example, intra-arterial blood pressure monitoring when vasopressors such as noradrenaline are required, or the need for noninvasive ventilation, or if the patient has a tracheostomy. This is our typical HDU bed space, with the capacity to provide continuous monitoring shown here.
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This includes cardiac monitoring, intra-arterial blood pressure monitoring, noninvasive blood pressure monitoring, and oxygen saturations. These can also be seen at the nurses’ desk in the centre of the ward to allow for abnormalities to be addressed in a timely manner. Various treatments which would not be used in a ward environment, including noninvasive ventilation, can also be provided in HDU. Our high dependency units cater for patients requiring single organ support, or in the immediate post-operative phase, and require close monitoring.
John Wilson is one of the Charge Nurses in our Critical Care Unit. In this video he explains what we mean by the term ‘High Dependency Unit’ (HDU) and what treatments we can provide in this environment.
He gives examples of the types of conditions that may lead to an HDU admission. Often we admit post-operative patients who require extra monitoring or intervention. Examples would include patients being treated with an epidural for pain relief or patients requiring high flow nasal oxygen therapy, which we will talk about later this week.
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Introduction to Critical Care Medicine

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