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Critical Care


After being electrocuted, Elijah was fighting for his life at Rady Children’s. Thanks to expert care in the PICU, he’s back to playing baseball. Meet Elijah.


The Ernest Hahn Critical Care Center at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego is fully equipped for the medical and surgical demands of critically ill and injured children. Our expert team is an integral part of the Hospital’s Trauma Center, functioning as first responders to critical trauma situations.

We are a national leader in pediatric survival rates (based on a statistical analysis of comparative mortality outcomes). When children are critically ill or injured, Rady Children’s is the best place for them to be.

Critical care services are provided in our 24-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and our 30-bed Acute Cardiac Unit (ACU). The PICU admits more than 1,700 patients a year and has a multidisciplinary team that includes attending physicians, fellows, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers and pharmacists. The Acute Cardiac Unit manages the ICU needs for postoperative cardiac patients, critically ill patients with congenital heart disease, and heart transplant patients.

Our PICU received a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. Only four PICUs in California and 12 across the United States earned gold-level accolades. (2022)

Common injuries and illnesses treated in the Critical Care Center include:

  • Respiratory failure (asthma, pneumonia, etc)
  • Shock (sepsis, dehydration, etc)
  • Multi-organ system failure
  • Poisonings
  • Near drownings
  • Meningitis

Research is an important component of our program. All of our fellows have at least one research project and work with a faculty mentor. The research has won many awards and has been cited as part of international evidence-based medical care guidelines.

Our program also plays a key role in graduate medical education. Along with our three-year fellowship, we train the pediatric residents from UC San Diego.

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Video: What is a PICU?