Why a stay in the ICU can leave patients worse off

Almost 6 million patients are admitted to an intensive care unit every year and for many it will mark a turning point in their lives. While one-third will return to normal, two-thirds will not return to their baseline or will decline even further. This is a substantial number of patients who are leaving the ICU facing many negative outcomes including anxiety, dementia, depression, and muscle and nerve problems. Some ICUs have developed new standards to decrease prolonged ventilation and increase mobility as a way to improve outcomes for these patients. As Dr. Wes Ely, a professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine explains “We’re trying to get back to the humanness of critical care”.