Overview of the Medical Management of the Critically Ill Patient

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2022 Dec;17(12):1805-1813. doi: 10.2215/CJN.07130622. Epub 2022 Nov 18.


The medical management of the critically ill patient focuses predominantly on treatment of the underlying condition (e g, sepsis or respiratory failure). However, in the past decade, the importance of initiating early prophylactic treatment for complications arising from care in the intensive care unit setting has become increasingly apparent. As survival from critical illness has improved, there is an increased prevalence of postintensive care syndrome-defined as a decline in physical, cognitive, or psychologic function among survivors of critical illness. The Intensive Care Unit Liberation Bundle, a major initiative of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, is centered on facilitating the return to normal function as early as possible, with the intent of minimizing iatrogenic harm during necessary critical care. These concepts are universally applicable to patients seen by nephrologists in the intensive care unit and may have particular relevance for patients with kidney failure either on dialysis or after kidney transplant. In this article, we will briefly summarize some known organ-based consequences associated with critical illness, review the components of the ABCDEF bundle (the conceptual framework for Intensive Care Unit Liberation), highlight the role nephrologists can play in implementing and complying with the ABCDEF bundle, and briefly discuss areas for additional research.

Keywords: acute renal failure; clinical epidemiology; renal injury.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care
  • Critical Illness*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Patient Care Bundles*