June 3, 2016 – You and the ICU
Anchor lead: Chances are good you will need an ICU at some point in your lifetime, especially as you age, Elizabeth Tracey reports
Many people will experience a stay in an intensive care unit in their lifetime, especially as they age, a recent study found, reporting that the average age of persons in the ICU continues to get older. Dale Needham, a critical care medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, says these findings point to a need to tailor both expectations and treatments.
Needham: For many kinds of outcomes, such as worse physical outcomes, and even death after ICU discharge, we need to be understanding older age as an important risk factor, and recognize that these patients often don’t have the physical or the cognitive reserve to have a complete recovery. And also thinking in frank conversations with patients and their family members around what kind of outcomes we might expect, and when we need to be thinking about limiting care, versus continuing with full, aggressive care. :31
Needham says that as interventions such as surgery are increasingly employed in those 80 years old and older, understanding how an ICU stay affects this group of people is key. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.