Intensive care units have been established in all somatic hospitals in Norway over the last two decades. In order to examine the use of these units in a medical department the group of patients admitted to the unit at Haukeland hospital during a six month period was analyzed. The flow of patients is twice that found in the regular medical wards. The dominating reason for admittance is heart disease. The overall mortality of the patients in these units is high. However, it is probable that it may be possible to define groups of patients, who without reduction of medical security, could be treated in regular and less costly medical wards.