The cardiac progressive care unit (CPCU) is a special hospital ward configured to monitor and assess people with serious or acute heart conditions.
With the prevalence of technological innovations in medicine, many hospitals now offer a wide range of nursing careers, including progressive care nursing.
Most cardiac progressive units have a central nursing station fitted with monitoring screens and surrounded by 8 to 12 single rooms. Every room is fitted with huge glass windows for easier visibility.
Generally, specialized progressive care units help reduce congestion in the ICU and ICU costs without jeopardizing patient care. Let’s have an in-depth discussion about the cardiac progressive unit.
What is Cardiovascular Progressive Care Unit?
Cardiovascular or cardiac progressive care unit(CPCU) is a 15-bed telemetry ward that cares for adult patients admitted to the medical cardiology, cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, and thoracic surgery services.
Note: Telemetry is a form of technology.
Patients admitted to the CPCU arrive from the operating room, Cath Lab, ICU, or the Emergency Department. The CPCU is where they recover.
The commonly found patients in the CPCU suffer from an acute heart attack or any other type of coronary syndrome. Patients with such conditions are prone to unexpected changes and require progressive therapy like targeted temperature management.
The CPCU wards are staffed with professional medical personnel trained in cardiac health care. Patients admitted to the CPCU need 24-hour monitoring and special cardiovascular therapy.
Most cardiac progressive care unit patients are placed on a cardiac monitor that records and analyzes every heartbeat. The cardiac monitor is also an alarm that alerts the staff if a serious attack occurs.
Other patients have temporary catheters inserted into a pulmonary artery or wrist artery to monitor the heart blood pressure.
Patients with congestive heart failure receive a left ventricular assist device(LVAD) or an intra-aortic balloon pump(IABP). You’ll also find ventilators in cardiac progressive care units to assist patients experiencing breathing problems due to cardiac conditions.
What is a Progressive Care Unit?
Progressive care is an intermediary level of patient care. The care is given to hospital patients who require close monitoring and assessment than med-surgical patients but are still stable enough not to be admitted to the ICU.
Progressive care units, also referred to as intermediate care units, telemetry care units, step down units, critical care units, or transitional care units are wards that require intense nursing care and high surveillance.
A step down unit’s main objective is to bridge the gap between medical-surgical units and intensive care units, thus providing affordable, high quality, and specialized care.
Since the progressive care unit is a transitional phase, patients may not be there long.
Is a progressive care unit considered critical care?
There are multiple levels of patient care in an acute care hospital. They include critical care, intermediate care, intensive care(surgical/medical), and observation.
Progressive care unit is considered a form of intermediate care. The PCU is a bridge between the ICU and the medical-surgical units. Although PCU patients don’t require critical care, they still need specialized care like monitoring equipment and constant surveillance.
In addition, PCU units also reserve ICU beds for patients who require immediate critical care.
Medical Progressive Care Unit (MPCU) Definition
The medical progressive care unit provides special care for diagnosed patients with congestive heart failure(CHF), angina, and sub-acute MI.
Patients in the MPCU require diagnostic tests and interventional treatments such as post stent placement, angioplasty, permanent pacemakers, cardiac catheterization, and internal cardiac defibrillators (ICD).
Medical progressive care units also provide counselling and education regarding medications, rehab, and disease management.
Surgical Progressive Care Unit (SPCU) definition
The surgical progressive care unit(SPCU) is a hospital unit that deals with treating surgical and medical patients who are not too critical for the ICU but still have vital signs. Patients in the SPCU are usually under drug regimens that require more monitoring than other floors.
The PCU staff work in closed environments with more surbodinate staff than other hospital care units. Additional SPCU support staff include unit clerks, physicians, assistant nurses, and patient care technicians.
Note: Surgical PCU staff need to have the same educational qualifications as ICU staff except for PROFICIENCY with invasive technologies.
What is the PCU Nurse’s Role?
Now that you know the definition of a progressive care unit, let’s look at the role of a PCU nurse.
A PCU nurse is a registered nurse who is skilled in treating and assessing acutely ill patients by detecting changes, monitoring vital signs, and implementing interventions. PCU nurses provide special health care to patients who need extra nursing care than other units.
Don’t be surprised to find many PCU nurses with prior experience in critical care. The average nurse-to-patient ratio in the PCU is 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1, depending on the patient’s level of acuity.
The following are responsibilities of a PCU nurse:
- To administer medication to PCU patients
- To monitor and assess the progress of a patient
- To insert catheters, change dressings, and start IVs
- To interpret measurements from special medical equipment
- To calculate drug dosages for PCU patients
- To report deteriorating conditions to doctors or healthcare specialists
- To assist the doctor, physician, or any other healthcare provider
- To explain treatment procedures to patients and their families
PCU nurses are mostly equipped with various skills to help them perform their jobs effectively. Such skills include:
- Attention to detail
- Organizational skills
- Critical thinking
What’s the Difference Between Progressive Care and Intensive Care Unit?
The PCU and ICU units are hospital wings for patients who need constant medical attention and specialized care. While they are both similar, they are still very different.
A PCU is a hospital unit that requires extra nursing care than regular units. PCUs are often used to monitor and assess patients during and after cardiac attacks closely.
Patients are directly admitted to the PCU through the operating room or the emergency department. Patients may also move from the Cardiac Cath Lab or the ICU to stabilize their state. Patients move from the PCU to either a regular floor or are discharged.
The ICU is a hospital unit that treats critically ill patients who need life support or 24-hour intensive care. In other words, the ICU is where the most severe patients are cared for. ICUs often contain specialized technical equipment for monitoring ICU patients.
Is PCU worse than ICU?
The PCU and ICU units both specialize in treating patients who need round-the-clock care. However, the level of critical care given to an ICU patient can be extremely challenging. ICU nursing responsibilities require both physical and emotional stamina to perform.
Note: Hospitals with ICUs may or may not have a PCU.
Differences in billing to consider
Although both the PCU and ICU units provide constant, high-quality care to delicate patients, the main differences lie in:
- The staffing level requirements
- Types of care and treatment
- Clinical knowledge and expertise
Why staffing levels matter so much
The health care sector is constantly changing and nurses are at the frontline of patient care. Nurses are handling more patients who require extra care than ever before. For each patient, the safe nurse-to-patient ratio is crucial.
According to statistics, when adequate nurses are on duty, the patient progress improves. Therefore, staffing levels are important because of the following reasons:
- To reduce the admission period
- To improve the quality of care given
- To decrease the mortality risk
- To reduce the risk of infections from hospitals
- To prevent readmission
Is Cardiac Progressive Care Unit only for Critically ill patients?
Although the PCU provides critical nursing care to patients, the unit is not only for critically ill patients. Patients with chronic health conditions or those undergoing recovery from surgery are also found in the PCU. You can find patients with the following health issues in a PCU:
- Acute respiratory failure
- Acute kidney injury
Depending on the stability, PCU patients can be discharged to a skilled nursing facility, a Med-Surg unit, or directly home.
Type of Care in PCU vs. ICU
Although critical care is given to both the PCU and ICU patients, specific types of health care are offered in both units.
Patients in the PCU receive care for strokes, myocardial infractions, defibrillators, new pacemakers, and potent drug management. The care provided in the PCU enables the patient to recover and stabilize completely.
The ICU uses a multidisciplinary approach and employs the highest level of acuity. Patients in the ICU are regarded as the most critical in the entire hospital. In other words, they are potentially close to death.
ICU nurses must gain at least two years of experience in an ICU before sitting for a Critical Care Registered Nurse certification.
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A step-down unit is typically designed differently than a standard hospital ward. This is because many patients require interventional treatments and diagnostic tests.