The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: Impact on the pediatric intensive care unit
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Increasing numbers of infants and children with AIDS are being admitted to the PICU, especially in certain geographic areas. Clear diagnostic criteria are available to aid in the diagnosis. As many as 50 per cent of these patients may be first diagnosed with AIDS during their PICU stay. Most patients are admitted because of ARF, but septic shock and CNS disorders are also common. Acute PICU mortality is in excess of 80 per cent, and presently the long-term mortality for this syndrome stands at 100 per cent. The economic impact of this epidemic is enormous and may become catastrophic if a national strategy to deal with these costs is not developed promptly. The PICU has an important role both in terms of resource use and cost containment. Awareness of unique stresses on medical and nursing staff caring for these children, as well as the unique psychoemotional needs of the patients themselves, is vital. Specific infection control, nutritional, and medical-legal strategies will facilitate safe, effective delivery of care to these infants and children in the PICU. The appropriate long-term role of the PICU in the care of children with an ultimately terminal disease has yet to be determined.