Patients' recollection of intensive care unit experience

Crit Care Med. 1990 Sep;18(9):966-8. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199009000-00012.


This study evaluates the recall of 100 patients after ICU admission. There was a wide spectrum of race, religion, occupation, and educational levels. The more common diagnoses included asthma, pneumonia, trauma, and adult respiratory distress syndrome. The average Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II) score was 12.3, and 68% of the patients were mechanically ventilated. The ICU atmosphere was described as friendly or relaxed by 94% of patients. Confidence in doctors and nurses was good. The most frequently reported unpleasant experiences were arterial blood gas sampling (48% of patients) and tracheal suctioning (30 of 68 ventilated patients). Only 6% of patients disliked ward rounds and discussion around the bedside. This study suggests that arterial lines or pulse oximetry could be used to avoid frequent arterial blood gas analyses and that tracheal suctioning should be performed with greater care. The need for better communication with patients is emphasized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients / psychology*