What's the diff. betw. all those conditions- serious, critical, etc

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This is not directly related to ER the show, but I guess emergency rooms in general. I thought I'd ask since there are some people on this site who work in the medical field. Anyway, what is the difference between all those conditions that people talk about regarding patients: serious condition, critical condition, fair, stable, etc. I can pretty much guess the diff. between fair and stable, but serious and critical always sounded so similar. Thanks!

-- melanie (msintn@hotmail.com), March 29, 2000


There's basically no difference between any of them; they're not medically defined terms (at least, nobody's ever told me what the "official" definition of critical and serious is) and they're more for public consumption than for actual institutional use. From watching our PIO, I gather that he uses critical to refer to people in the ICU and/or hanging around death's place waiting for the barbeque; serious is for people who might be in ICU but are expected to live after some recovery.

As I said, this is a guess based on what I've seen come through the ED and later show up on the news. I could be totally wrong. My real point, I think, is that these are terms for Public Relations and the media and as such they don't really have anything to do with medicine per se.

Then again, the PIO never talks to me and I'm never the one to provide information (so much the better; I don't see the point of the releases), so what do I know?

-- Mike Sugimoto (phloem@fumbling.com), March 29, 2000.

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