Individuals that are admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) are already critically ill, and now, according to the article by Rattray will be faced with a longer recovery time that could be weeks, months and in some cases years to return to pre-ICU health status. 25-76% of these patient suffer from muscle wasting, weakness, and fatigue from prolonged bed-rest and immobility, and the severity increases with the more critically ill the person is. She further states that these patients suffer psychological problems from their stay in ICU. Due to their perceived experience they suffer from anxiety, depression (28%), PTSD (20%), and cognitive problems including delirium (20-80%), that negatively affect their health status. The characteristics of patients most likely to suffer from delirium are those that are already cognitively impaired, respiratory disease, older age, smokers, and alcohol abuse. Additionally, the illness that this is most prevalent are sepsis, dehydration, prolonged stay in the ICU, and biochemical abnormalities. Environmental precipitants include but are not limited to physical restraints, noise, sleep deprivation, isolation, as well as benzodiazepine and opioid use. Rattray states that rehabilitation should begin while the patient is still in ICU, by daily sedation reductions and early mobilization. This would need to be done with a team of multidisciplinary care providers that begin rehabilitation as soon as the patient is admitted to ICU and continue after discharge.
According to the article Intensive care delirium: the new black by Egerod, it is unclear if ICU delirium is the result of the illness or the medications. However, she does state that these patients suffer from adverse health outcomes from prolonged delirium and stay in ICU. Egerod further promotes the use of interdisciplinary team to manage pain, sleep, circadian rhythm, lighter sedation and early ambulation. Additionally, use of family to participate in care as it gives the patient comfort and familiarity and connects them to the outside world.
Both authors promote reduced sedation, decreased use of benzodiazepines, avoiding sleep disruption and increased physical therapy and activity. Due to the high rate of patients suffering from delirium and other adverse effects from their stay in ICU that have developed standardized tests in which to assess their functioning and delirium. Further research is needed to understand these mechanisms so as to provide better treatment that will provide better health outcomes for the critically ill population.
Egerod, I. (2013). Intensive care delirium: the new black. Nursing in Critical Care, 18(4), 164-165.
Rattray, J. (2014). Life after critical illness: an overview. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 3(5/6), 623-633.