June 2, 2016 – ICU and Mental Health


Anchor lead:  People who develop mental health problems following an ICU stay may not be predictable, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Who is at risk for developing long term mental health problems following a stay in an intensive care unit?  A study led by Dale Needham, a critical care medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, shows it’s not the usual suspects.

Needham: The most striking finding was there was no association with greater severity of illness, or longer length of stay.  And why that’s important is when we think about patients who have poor physical outcomes, we focus on older patients, patients with more severe illness, and longer length of stay, but this study, and prior studies clearly have shown that a much larger group of ICU patients are at risk of psychiatric outcomes, younger patients, shorter length of stay, and patients who are less sick.  :30

Needham says the good news is that interventions like ICU diaries, where medical staff and family members chronicle the ICU stay so survivors can make sense of it later, are known to help, as well as reduced medication use and psychologist visits. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.