The Role of Neurocritical Care: A Brief Report on the Survey Results of Neurosciences and Critical Care Specialists
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Neurocritical care is a new subspecialty field in medicine that intersects with many of the neuroscience and critical care specialties, and continues to evolve in its scope of practice and practitioners. The objective of this study was to assess the perceived need for and roles of neurocritical care intensivists and neurointensive care units among physicians involved with intensive care and the neurosciences.
An online survey of physicians practicing critical care medicine, and neurology was performed during the 2008 Leapfrog initiative to formally recognize neurocritical care training.
The survey closed in July 2009 and achieved a 13% response rate (980/7524 physicians surveyed). Survey respondents (mostly from North America) included 362 (41.4%) neurologists, 164 (18.8%) internists, 104 (11.9%) pediatric intensivists, 82 (9.4%) anesthesiologists, and 162 (18.5%) from other specialties. Over 70% of respondents reported that the availability of neurocritical care units staffed with neurointensivists would improve the quality of care of critically ill neurological/neurosurgical patients. Neurologists were reported as the most appropriate specialty for training in neurointensive care by 53.3%, and 57% of respondents responded positively that neurology residency programs should offer a separate training track for those interested in neurocritical care.
Broad level of support exists among the survey respondents (mostly neurologists and intensivists) for the establishment of neurological critical care units. Since neurology remains the predominant career path from which to draw neurointensivists, there may be a role for more comprehensive neurointensive care training within neurology residencies or an alternative training track for interested residents.