Friday, February 25, 2011

ICU: Too much care?

Laura Landro, WSJ, Feb 15, 2011, says some hospitals are rethinking intensive care.

If you get sent there after surgery or with a life-threatening infection or something, you may be heavily sedated or even put in a deliberate coma, not move much, and be poked and prodded while given drugs to make you forget.

Now, researchers think, this may set you up for problems later.

You can get intensive care delirium—maybe increasing your chances of dementia.

A year after a stint in intensive care, half the patients cannot return to work.

The new thinking is to sedate more lightly, regularly assessing for pain. The nurses may awaken patients every so often to see if they can breathe on their own.

Another technique is to sit patients up—or even stand them up.

These approaches come from Vanderbilt’s ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study.

Since patients may be out of it, family members have to be sure these steps are taken.

As many as a third of ICU patients may suffer from depression after a stay.

If you know someone who ends up in the ICU, ask about this.

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