We often hear in the news media that a patient is in serious conditon in the hospital and we also hear that a patient is in critical condition in the hospital.
Serious and critical are terms specifically developed as a way to respond to media requests for information about a patient's condition. The hospital staff are allowed to answer a question without providing detailed information that might invade the privacy of the hospitalized person.
Most hospitals adhere to American Hospital Association guidelines when describing a patient's condition to the media.
According to the American Hospital Association, serious condition means vital signs may be unstable and not within normal limits. Patient is acutely ill. Indicators are questionable.
According to the American Hospital Association, critical condition means vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. Patient may be unconscious. Indicators are unfavorable.
Vital signs are measurements of the body's most basic functions.
Vital signs are indicators such as blood pressure, pulse rate (heart rate), body temperature, and respiration rate (breathing rate).
Vital signs often vary by age.