Critical care, as a specialty in both nursing and medicine, is well recognized and the number of people requiring hospitalization for critical illnesses continues to increase. The purpose of this paper is to examine the future and the changes that lie ahead in critical care. New and expanding roles for nurses are projected along with a continued refinement and expansion of the critical care medicine subspecialty for physicians. A variety of changes in critical care are anticipated that reflect our increasing abilities in biotechnology, basic and clinical research, and data management. These changes are viewed for their obvious impact on cost, ethical controversies, and patient care and outcome.

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