Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) are critically ill children who need to be continuously monitored. We treat kids who are suffering from a variety of life-threatening conditions or are recovering from surgery. Our doctors and nurses helped pioneer special techniques for taking care of children who are this sick. Our ability to deliver high-quality care using the most advanced technology available has brought patients here from throughout the western United States.

In both our San Francisco and Oakland locations, doctors in dozens of different pediatric specialties may consult in your child's care. In addition, the PICU has doctors called intensivists, trained to care for very sick children. Our team also includes respiratory therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists and two social workers dedicated exclusively to critical care. Patients and their families have access to physical therapists, occupational therapists, a chaplain and child life workers skilled in comforting kids and helping them adapt to being in a hospital.

We recognize how stressful serious illness is for kids and their loved ones, so we try to ensure care in the PICU is family-centered and encourage you to spend as much time with your child as possible.

As they get better, many of our PICU patients go on to receive further care within the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals network.

Why families choose us

Access to all hospital resources and subspecialties

  • Our PICU offers access to more than 50 subspecialties and the most advanced technology available and is dedicated to providing the highest level of medical care to our pediatric patients.
  • Subspecialty services available through the PICU include neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery, orthopedics, general surgery, cardiology, pulmonary, hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant.

Child-focused care for all of Northern California

  • Patient care in the PICU always provides family-centered treatment that is developmentally- and age-appropriate, compassionate, and effective for the treatment of various health problems.
  • Approximately one-third of our critical care patient population comes from hospitals as far away as Nevada, who rely on the expertise and experience of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals to handle the most challenging cases.

Critical care support staff

  • We attract and retain exceptional critical care nurses and nurse specialists many of whom have been with us for 20 years or more, and take an active role in training more junior colleagues.
  • Additional members of the team include respiratory therapists, nutritionists, pharmacists, and two social workers dedicated exclusively to Critical Care.

Your child receives more than just a one-time treatment

  • Many patients in our PICU go on to receive direct patient care, post-operative care, inter-facility transport program, and trauma care within the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital’s network.
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals offers academic, clinical, and research experience to the next generation of pediatric specialists.

Our locations (2)

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    Plan your visit

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your child's condition
    • List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

    New visitor rules

    Before you head to the hospital, check our special COVID-19 rules for visitors. Thanks!


    Your Stay

    We offer valuable information to help you plan for your child's upcoming hospital stay. Find out about food services, family accommodations and more.

    Learn more

    Your Child's Care Team

    Our doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other providers have special training to care for children. Meet your child's care team.

    Learn more

    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Learn more

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.


    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.


    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.


    School Re-Entry Program

    After hospitalization, we help kids return to school by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Our research initiatives

    • ucsf-division-of-pediatric-critical-care-research-2x

      UCSF Division of Pediatric Critical Care Research

    Translation, please

    We have interpreters for Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Russian, American Sign Language and more.

    Request an interpreter