Pediatric Critical Care | Pediatrics


Pediatric Critical Care

UC Davis Health is one of Northern California’s premier pediatric critical care programs, offering around-the-clock access to leading experts and advanced treatments. Learn how we meet the unique needs of critically ill and injured children with compassion and skill.

Medically reviewed on June 27, 2023.

Nurse holding a small child in the PICU

Pediatric Critical Care Expertise in Northern California

UC Davis Health gives critically ill children and their families hope for healing. Our state-of-the-art pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) delivers trusted services to more than 1,600 infants, children and adolescents every year.

Our Difference

Leading Expertise

Our highly trained team of pediatric critical care specialists ensures your child receives the focused attention and services they deserve. Board-certified physicians and specially trained nurses safely deliver care that’s appropriate and essential for your child’s circumstances. They work together with other specialists in our state-of-the-art pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

Learn more about our PICU
Timely, Coordinated Care

Your child receives compassionate care from a diverse team of UC Davis Health pediatric specialists. Our PICU specialists work closely with general surgeons, cardiac surgeons and neurosurgeons, all available on short notice. Our expanded team also includes hematologist-oncologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists and many other specialists. The breadth of our expertise helps your child receive prompt, personalized care.

Innovative Therapies

We constantly advance treatment and improve outcomes for critically ill and injured children through research. Our interests include improving access in rural communities and enhancing inpatient services. These efforts have the potential to help children all over the world.


What Is Pediatric Critical Care Medicine?

Pediatric critical care supports children who require intensive, ongoing monitoring after receiving treatment for severe illnesses and injuries. UC Davis Health provides around-the-clock access to experts, tests and therapies that give your child the best possible chances for recovery.

Common Types of Critical Illness and Injury in Children

Life-Threatening Infections

Life-threatening and difficult-to-treat infections raise the risk of septic shock and organ damage. PICU care may include delivering extra fluids to your child through an intravenous (IV) line (in their vein) or powerful doses of medications.

Learn more about infectious diseases and treatments
Severe Traumatic Injuries

These conditions include traumatic (sudden and severe) brain injuries (TBIs) and compound fractures. We also care for children with partially severed limbs (amputations), a heart that stops after forceful impact (traumatic cardiac arrest) or spinal cord injuries (spine trauma). Care includes treatment and ongoing monitoring to reduce the risk of complications and ensure your child's recovery stays on track.

Organ Failure

If a diseased or injured organ is not working as it should, we use various life support methods including a heart-lung bypass machine (extra-corporeal life support) to sustain your child's body systems. We may use a machine (ventilator) that moves air in and out of your child's lungs. When kidneys aren't working, a process called dialysis may be necessary to filter toxins from your child's blood.

Congenital Heart Disease

Children born with severe conditions that limit the heart's ability to pump blood, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, may require life-saving procedures. We follow up with around-the-clock monitoring in our pediatric cardiac intensive care unit to ensure these therapies work for your child as they should.


Our Areas of Expertise

UC Davis Health is a regional destination for severely ill and injured children. We maintain a reputation for critical care excellence because we successfully treat complex cases and can help your child, too.

Highlights of Our Services:

Critical Care Telemedicine

Our pediatric critical care expertise extends to where you live, and more distant communities, with telemedicine services. Using high-resolution videoconferencing technology, we work with local physicians to assess children with certain acute conditions. UC Davis Health experts provide personalized care recommendations that enable you and your child to receive treatment closer to home.

Pediatric and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

Our team includes experts with additional training in the critical needs of children with advanced heart conditions. We provide specialized monitoring and therapies to children with limited heart function and those recovering from cardiac surgery. It’s part of our commitment to delivering world-class pediatric heart care in Northern California.

Learn more about our full-service Pediatric Heart Center
24/7 Pediatric Transport Services

Each year, we provide medical transport services to critically ill children in a 33-county region. We have immediate access to fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and ground ambulances with direct communication to hospital specialists. Our services help hundreds of children each year access care as quickly as possible.

Get more information about our Pediatric Transport Team
Supportive Therapies and Palliative Services Team

We provide patient- and family-focused services throughout your child’s care journey. Turn to our care team for symptom management, coordination, and help making difficult medical decisions. You and your loved ones may also receive emotional and spiritual support. These efforts ease some of the stress you may experience, so you can focus on your child.

Meet our Supportive Therapies and Enhanced Palliative Services (STEPS) Team
Life-Saving Care for Your Child

When your child has a severe illness or injury, you can count on UC Davis Health. Physicians, specially trained nurses and therapists deliver advanced treatments that keep your child’s recovery moving forward. We provide minute-by-minute care and monitoring, as long as necessary.

Our comprehensive approach includes advanced therapies and support services, some of which are not widely available. We continue caring for your child even after their PICU stay with outpatient pediatric specialty services. We deliver exceptional care, so more children can achieve positive outcomes and return to their everyday lives. 

A nurse playing guitar while a second nurse tends to a child in the PICU

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Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, obstetrics & gynecology, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

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US News & World Report best Children’s Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

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Magnet designation badge

The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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Chime acute badge

“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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Chime ambulatory badge

“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 11th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality.”

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