Admission and discharge criteria for intensive care departments have been drawn up in order to optimise the use of scarce and costly intensive care facilities. Every patient who could benefit from admission must be assessed by the intensive care specialist beforehand. Admission is indicated for patients with disrupted vital functions in whom recovery of dysfunctioning or failing organ systems is expected, patients who will act as organ donors and patients who undergo diagnostic investigations associated with a high risk of vital complications. Frequent assessment (several times per day) of the 'indication to stay' is indicated in the case of many patients in order to maximise the admission capacity. Discharge from the intensive care department is indicated if the vital functions are stable without life support and no longer require monitoring or treatment, if nursing the patient in the ward is possible, if continuation of the medical treatment is no longer worthwhile, if the patient no longer consents to the treatment and if the benefit of a treatment no longer outweights its negative effects.