Surgical Critical Care

Multidisciplinary Surgical Critical Care
The Multidisciplinary Surgical Critical Care (MDSCC) Service provides care to critically ill and injured patients within the Surgical Intensive Care Unit in a collaborative multidisciplinary system. The Surgical ICU is a 22-bed ICU that serves a diverse group of patients including critically ill general, oncologic, transplant, thoracic, orthopedic, plastic, urologic, and head and neck surgical patients who may be experiencing multisystem organ dysfunction, sepsis, or any other variety of critical care needs.

The multidisciplinary team is directed through the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care and includes faculty from both this division and the Division of Anesthesia Critical Care. Vanderbilt surgical and anesthesia critical care fellows and surgical, anesthesia, and obstetrics and gynecology residents gain exposure to a variety of critical care issues surgical patients can experience in the perioperative period. This comprehensive approach to surgical critical care provides powerful research and educational opportunities for residents interested in a career in surgical critical care.

In addition to the active clinical program, the division supports ongoing research opportunities and continuing medical education programs with Fundamentals of Critical Care Support and Advanced Trauma Life Support programs.  Residents are educated daily during MDSCC rounds and during post-round educational conferences taught by Fellows and Attending physicians.

As a part of our desire to constantly improve patient care and safety, the SICU supports a robust process improvement (PI) and quality assurance program.  The PI program, reflecting the SICU itself, is a multidisciplinary group consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, nursing leadership, nursing staff and ancillary SICU services.  The PI program monitors key patient safety indicators to ensure the best possible patient outcomes using the most current evidence-based practice guidelines.


  • To function under the auspices of the Vanderbilt Medical Center mission to provide the highest quality of ICU care (outcomes/cost) possible
  • To be a regionally and nationally recognized center of excellence in ICU care and education.
  • To have our excellent care provide a regional impact on the care of critically ill patients
  • To participate, support and produce nationally recognized clinical research.

About Our Team

The MDSCC team consists of a critical care physician team, acute care nurse practitioners, a clinical pharmacist, respiratory therapist, and nutritionist working collaboratively with the SICU nursing staff and with the primary service for the patient. Specifically, the critical care provider team is comprised of an attending physician who is board-certified as a Surgery or Anesthesiology intensivist, a critical care fellow, 2nd year resident, interns, and board certified acute care nurse practitioners. To provide the highest level of Critical Care management, the MDSCC Service maintains the following characteristics:

  • Dedicated board-certified ICU attending availability 24/7.
  • Dedicated resident and fellow support specific to the SICU
  • Dedicated acute care nurse practitioner 24/7 team
  • Timely MDSCC consultation for all patients admitted to the SICU. 
  • Continuous implementation of evidence based 'best-practice' guidelines, aggressive process improvement and quality assurance programs
  • Utilization of a critical care database and severity scoring for 'real time' analysis of outcomes and changes

Maximizing the quality and value of care provided in the SICU is labor-intensive requiring collaborative interactions between diverse groups. Physicians, nurse practitioners, nursing, and ancillary groups work collaboratively to standardize practice where appropriate and maintain excellence in all levels of care.  In 2010, the SICU received the Beacon Award from the Association of Critical Care Nurses for our excellence in care and collaborative team approach to caring for our patients.  Our unit was the first adult unit in Tennessee to receive this national award of excellence.