PICU group photo The Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is celebrating 50 years of caring for critically ill and injured infants, children and adolescents. CHOP established the nation’s first pediatric critical care unit in 1967.

What began as a six-bed unit now houses 55 licensed beds with more than 400 staff members who care for more than 3,000 critically ill children each year.

The PICU is operated by the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, which has played a groundbreaking role in improving outcomes for children in intensive care. CHOP cares for some of the sickest children in the nation in its operating rooms and intensive care units.

“Today, we take for granted that hospitals have a special unit dedicated to critically ill children and adolescents,” said Madeline Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer at CHOP. “CHOP was a pioneer in pediatric critical care and anesthesiology, and through the decades our research has helped clinicians worldwide learn how to better care for critically ill children. We continue to lead the way in critical care medicine.”

“The team’s combination of clinical innovation, decades of medical experience and world-class research allows 98 to 99 percent of those children to survive their serious conditions,” said Robert Berg, MD, Chief of Critical Care Medicine at CHOP. “We strive to continue to advance our clinical research and clinical care to ensure all children in our care receive state-of-the-art healthcare.” 

Conditions that commonly cause critical illness and injury include severe infection, poisoning, drug overdose, trauma, extensive surgery, congenital anomalies and immunological disorders.

Physicians, nurses and allied medical care professionals who work in the PICU have the knowledge, skill and judgment to quickly assess and treat children so they can achieve the best outcomes possible from a critical illness or injury. Equipped with advanced technology, CHOP’s multidisciplinary team improves survival, speeds recovery, minimizes disability, and relieves pain and suffering in a caring and respectful manner.

Many members of the Division of Critical Care Medicine are active researchers, studying areas including prevention and successful treatment of cardiac arrest, advanced airway management, neuro-critical care, life-threatening infections, critical care pharmacology, traumatic brain injury, acute respiratory failure, and use of bedside ultrasound.

“When you are given the immense responsibility of taking care of a family’s critically ill child at a precarious moment in their life, that's both an honor and a great responsibility,” said C. Dean Kurth, MD, Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at CHOP. “Every patient and family teaches us something that can further our efforts to provide the most compassionate and innovative care at very tough moments.”

Contact: Joey McCool Ryan, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, (267) 258-6735 or mccool@chop.edu