Research and innovation

Intensive care, also known as critical care, is at the forefront of research and innovation. Areas of active research include:

  • interventions to improve outcomes from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and sepsis
  • understanding the long-term implications of critical illness and how to improve recovery
  • the mechanisms and management of brain injury
  • developing risk models to guide intensive care treatments for common conditions or complications
  • minimising risk and morbidity associated with major surgery.

The UK intensive care community has been very active in collaborative research completing a number of large multi-centre randomised controlled trials addressing important clinical questions including:

  • ProMISe on early goal directed therapy for septic shock
  • CALORIES on early nutritional support routes
  • TracMan on the effect of early versus late tracheostomy
  • OSCAR testing high-frequency oscillatory ventilation
  • LeoPARDS testing levosimendan for acute organ dysfunction in sepsis. 

A number of bodies are actively involved in promoting and conducting research including ICNARC and the ICS Foundation. The UK Critical Care Research Forum was formed in 2008 and meets annually to share and critically review new study proposals, to share updates on the progress of ongoing studies and to discuss research methodologies.

One of the biggest challenges facing the specialty is the ability to staff units with trained and experienced staff. The specialty has been innovative in this area with the development of advanced critical care practitioners.