Special Article

Intensive Care Medicine

, 37:1575

First online:

Recommendations on basic requirements for intensive care units: structural and organizational aspects

  • Andreas ValentinAffiliated withGeneral and Medical ICU, Rudolfstiftung Hospital Email author 
  • , Patrick FerdinandeAffiliated withSurgical and Transplantation ICU, University Hospital Gasthuisberg
  • , ESICM Working Group on Quality Improvement

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access



To provide guidance and recommendations for the planning or renovation of intensive care units (ICUs) with respect to the specific characteristics relevant to organizational and structural aspects of intensive care medicine.


The Working Group on Quality Improvement (WGQI) of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) identified the basic requirements for ICUs by a comprehensive literature search and an iterative process with several rounds of consensus finding with the participation of 47 intensive care physicians from 23 countries. The starting point of this process was an ESICM recommendation published in 1997 with the need for an updated version.


The document consists of operational guidelines and design recommendations for ICUs. In the first part it covers the definition and objectives of an ICU, functional criteria, activity criteria, and the management of equipment. The second part deals with recommendations with respect to the planning process, floorplan and connections, accommodation, fire safety, central services, and the necessary communication systems.


This document provides a detailed framework for the planning or renovation of ICUs based on a multinational consensus within the ESICM.


Intensive care medicine Organization Structural requirements Quality of care Consensus paper