Introduction to Acute Care:
Acute care is a level of care where a patient receives specialized support for a brief but severe episode of illness that may be the result of trauma, disease, or following recovery from surgery.
Acute care research can assess acute illness and associated care at any level of an acute service, which may be defined as:
“All promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative or palliative actions, whether oriented towards individuals or populations, whose primary purpose is to improve health and whose effectiveness largely depends on time-sensitive, and often rapid, intervention” (1)
The principal intentions of acute care involve one or more of the following:
- Treatment of individuals requiring immediate surgery for life-threatening and limb-threatening injuries
- Treatment of individuals suffering from a medical condition that requires immediate care and potentially surgery, such as a heart attack or stroke
- To protect against the exacerbation of an illness or injury, or potential complications of an illness or injury which may be life-threatening or affect one’s normal function
- Delivery of medical care outside a hospital emergency department, such as an urgent care clinic, walk-in clinic, or provided by ambulance personnel
- Treatment of individuals in order to prepare them for an invasive procedure (e.g. administering intravenous fluids to a critically injured patient before surgery)
- The care of individuals with life-threatening conditions, requiring comprehensive care and constant monitoring, usually in intensive care units
- To manage labour and any complications that may arise with the mother or infant (2)
1. Hirshon JM; Risko N; Calvello EJB; Stewart de Ramirez S; Narayan M; Theodosis C; O’Neill J. Health systems and services: the role of acute care. Bull World Health Organ
; 91:386–388. (2013).
2. OECD Health Data 2001: A Comparative Analysis of 30 Countries, OECD, Paris, 2001, data sources, definitions and methods.