The evolution of the Critical Care Medicine Division within Duke Anesthesiology was set in motion in the 1980s with the vision of Dr. Robert Sladen, an international leader in critical care. Under his direction, anesthesiology progressed beyond the walls of the operating room, marking the beginning of anesthesiology intensive care in the Duke University Health System. Under Dr. Sladen’s direction from 1986-1997, anesthesia-trained critical care physicians began caring for patients in the surgical intensive care units. Throughout the next 18 years, Duke Anesthesiology continued to expand its footprint in the care of critically ill patients across Duke Health, with gradual expansion into the medical, neurologic, and cardiac critical care at Duke University Hospital, as well as providing general medical/surgical critical care at Duke Health’s community hospitals: Duke Raleigh Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital. During this period of time, the Critical Care Medicine Fellowship was started by Dr. Christopher Young, with innovative education in critical care medicine and perioperative echocardiography.

Due to this incredible growth, the department officially launched the Critical Care Medicine Division on September 1, 2015, with Dr. Raquel Bartz at the helm. Under Dr. Bartz’s leadership, the division has continued to grow and now represents the largest division in the department, with faculty providing care at six intensive care units across Duke University Health System. Several factors have driven the division’s growth:

  • The ongoing expansion of clinical services at ICUs beyond Duke University Hospital
  • The provision of innovation in mechanical circulatory support to patients with life-threatening cardiac and respiratory dysfunction throughout the health system (Duke University Hospital was designated as an Extracorporeal Life Support Organization Gold Center of Excellence in 2021)
  • The recruitment of a clinically-talented and academically-oriented faculty
  • Continued innovation in education programs to fellows, residents, and medical students
  • The growth of prominent research programs in population health, clinical trials, translational research, and basic science, with funding from federal, foundation and industry sources.

In February of 2022, Dr. Vijay Krishnamoorthy was appointed chief of the division. Given this incredible trajectory over the past 35 years, the future of the Critical Care Medicine Division at Duke Anesthesiology is bright!