The burden of acute respiratory failure (ARF) has become one of the greatest epidemiological challenges for the modern health systems. Consistently, the imbalance between the increasing prevalence of acutely de-compensated respiratory diseases and the shortage of high-daily cost ICU beds has stimulated new health cost-effective solutions. Respiratory High-Dependency Care Units (RHDCU) provide a specialised environment for patients who require an "intermediate" level of care between the ICU and the ward, where non-invasive monitoring and assisted ventilation techniques are preferentially applied. Since they are dedicated to the management of "mono-organ" decompensations, treatment of ARF patients in RHDCU avoids the dangerous "under-assistance" in the ward and unnecessary "over-assistance" in ICU. RHDCUs provide a specialised quality of care for ARF with health resources optimisation and their spread throughout health systems has been driven by their high-level of expertise in non-invasive ventilation (NIV), weaning from invasive ventilation, tracheostomy care, and discharging planning for ventilator-dependent patients.
Copyright © 2011 European Federation of Internal Medicine. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.