Problems following discharge after intensive care

Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 1994 Dec;10(4):244-51. doi: 10.1016/0964-3397(94)90032-9.


Intensive care units (ICUs) are now present in most acute care hospitals. While long-term studies on patients admitted to these units have been performed to identify mortality, functional outcome and quality of life, there is little information on the recovery period in the weeks immediately following discharge. The aim of this study was to identify and describe the sequelae found in patients at 3 months after leaving the ICU. The study was conducted over a 6-month period during 1991, in a university teaching hospital in Sydney, Australia. 54 patients with a length stay (LOS) of greater than 48 hours in the ICU were included. Each patient was interviewed in an outpatient clinic attached to the ICU. Information collected included pre-admission details, reason for admission, treatments provided and complications encountered. General health state, social and employment details, functional status, referral patterns since discharge and recollection of ICU stay were studied. The major findings indicated that many of the patients interviewed were returning towards near normal general health, but were suffering mild to moderate physical and psychosocial sequelae. In the majority of cases the problems were not incapacitating. The predominant complaints were minor to severe pain, sleeping difficulties, tiredness and breathlessness. Financial problems were reported by a small number of patients. Depression, irritability or a feeling of loneliness were present in over one-third of the group. More than half the patients required referral for further assessment. 34% of patients had no recollection of their ICU stay. 16 patients (29.6%) reported unpleasant memories including nightmares and hallucinations.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Quality of Life*