The ICU – A rocket sled ride through illness, hospitals and the thin red line

You go to bed one evening, having had a typical day. You go through your rituals, you settle into bed and you think that you have a good idea of what your tomorrow will bring. Only one day you are wrong.

The ICU Patient is, was or someday will be you or someone you love.

[Hospitals must] make a culture shift in how they handle their sickest patients in the ICU.”  Wes Ely, M.D. MPH, Professor of medicine and director of the ICU Delirium and Cognitive Impairment Study Group at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

This  first post marks the beginning of what hopefully over time will become both a tool for American ICU patients and their families as well as an occasionally thoughtful discussion of the roadblocks which now stand in the way of better treatment for the ICU patient, whether the patient is an inpatient still in the ICU,  an inpatient in a “step-down” hospital unit or after discharge from the hospital as an outpatient.

It is directed principally towards an American readership because it is in the United States that I seek to help effectuate change in ICU practices, particularly with regard to the treatment of ICU delirium. Regrettably and frankly shamefully, the United States is far behind the United Kingdom in this area.

The purposes of this blog are two-fold.  First, it is to help ICU patients and their families understand that the perils of hospitalization for a critical illness extend far beyond the confines of the original illness itself. Second, it is to promote positive patient-centered changes in ICU “culture”, in particular in recognizing the hazards of ICU delirium as well as the significant role which family members can play in helping their loved ones survive their ICU and hospital stay while minimizing the brain damage which can lead to disabling long term cognitive impairment.