"Most people have never heard that patients suffer long-term effects post-ICU," says School of Health Professions Nursing Instructor Lisa Sparacino, MS, RN, CCRN in ADVANCE for Nurses. "When a person recovers from a critical illness the public views it as a good thing. Since it is not viewed that a loss occurs, many patients and family members do not recognize that they are suffering a loss and do not seek treatment."
Nursing Department Chair Susan Neville said patients, family members and others in a support network can experience long-lasting effects after a patient receives a critical illness diagnosis following an intensive care unit admission. Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) can result from both the illness and treatments.
"Family members find themselves dealing with strains on personal relationships and often the threat of loss of a job and/or failing at a personal goal," says Sparacino, a critical care nurse for 27 years. "They often feel separated from the care of their loved one and helpless when attempting to support their critically-ill loved one."
Sparacino recommends that nurses involve the patient and family in care planning, day-to-day planning and interventions. Nurses should also understand how culture, socio-economic status and spiritually affect the coping processes of patients and their families.