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Understanding Medical Acronyms: PICU, IV, and PACU

What is a PICU nurse?


PICU stands for Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.


When someone becomes a nurse they get basic training in all areas of nursing. They learn how to care for old and young people with all different kinds of illnesses and injuries. A PICU nurse is a nurse that has had specialized training to care for children in intensive care.


“Intensive care” means that the patient requires consistent monitoring. This is true when a patient is under General Anesthesia.


What does IV mean?


An IV is a way to administer medicine “intravenously” which means through the vein. A needle attached to a tube is inserted into a vein in the hand or arm and medicine in a liquid form flows into the patient's blood stream.


This is one way that General Anesthesia is administered. IV sedation is fast and effective. Another way general anesthesia is given is in a gaseous form through a breathing mask.

What is the PACU?


PACU stands for Post-Anesthesia Care Unit.

This is an area of a hospital or surgery center where you or your child will go after their surgery until they are fully recovered from being under anesthesia.


After being placed under anesthesia a patient may be groggy, tired, disoriented for a short period of time after their surgery. In the PACU they are monitored for and treating any of these side effects. Side effects of anesthesia are rare but we just want to make sure you or your child are safe and happy. Once they are feeling back to normal they will be discharged.


Pain medications are initiated in the PACU and you will be sent home with instructions on how and when to take medications.


If you or someone you love needs general anesthesia for dental surgery in Virginia, Washington DC, or Maryland, please call us at (240) 691-4844.

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