Items in AFP with MESH term: Intensive Care Units
ABSTRACT: The care of a patient in the intensive care unit extends well beyond his or her hospitalization. Evaluation of a patient after leaving the intensive care unit involves a review of the hospital stay, including principal diagnosis, exposure to medications, period spent in the intensive care unit, and history of prolonged mechanical ventilation. Fatigue should prompt evaluation for possible anemia, nutritional deficits, sleep disturbance, muscular deconditioning, and neurologic impairment. Other common problems include poor appetite with possible weight loss, falls, and sexual dysfunction. Psychological morbidities, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, and depression also often occur in the post-intensive care unit patient. These conditions are more common among patients with a history of delirium, prolonged sedation, mechanical ventilation, and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The physician should gain an understanding of the patient's altered quality of life, including employment status, and the state of his or her relationships with loved ones or the primary caregiver. As in many aspects of medicine, a multidisciplinary treatment approach is most beneficial to the post-intensive care unit patient.