Paediatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the medical care of infants, children and adolescents. The upper age limit ranges from age 14 to 18 depending on the country.
A medical practitioner who specializes in this area is known as a pediatrician (also spelled paediatrician).
Treating a child is not like treating a miniature adult. A major difference between pediatrics and adult medicine is that children are minors and in most jurisdictions cannot make decisions for themselves. The issues of guardianship, privacy, legal responsibility and informed consent must always be considered in every pediatric procedure. In a sense paediatricians often have to treat the parents rather than just the child.
While many normal hospitals can treat children adequately, pediatric specialists may be a better choice when it comes to treating rare afflictions that may prove fatal or severely detrimental to young children in some cases before birth. The hospital has the added benefit of being staffed by professionals who are trained in treating children.
The PICU is the section of the hospital that provides sick children with the highest level of medical care. It differs from other parts of the hospital like the general medical wards, in that the PICU allows intensive nursing care and monitoring of bodily functions and conditions like heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. The PICU also allows medical staff to provide the treatment that might not be available in other parts of the hospital like ventilators or breathing machines, and certain medications that can be given only under close medical supervision.
Any child who’s seriously ill and needs intensive care and whose medical needs can’t be met on the hospital’s main medical wards goes to the PICU.