Many patients will make a straightforward and quick recovery from critical illness.
However, significant numbers may suffer continuing problems, both physical (weakness, loss of energy, physical complications of ICU stay) and non-physical (anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, impaired cognitive function). These may occur with short or long ICU stay, and may impact on family members as well as the patient.
Comprehensive patient information (local or generic, e.g. ICU STEPS, pp 13-21) may provide useful information and reassurance, and help the patient understand their symptoms and rehabilitation needs.
NICE Guidance (CG83, 'Rehabilitation after Critical Illness', 2009) recommends clinical assessment and identification of rehabilitation requirements and goals at important points in the patient's stay, both in and outside ICU. Full implementation requires collaboration between clinical teams, including primary care.
Some units in NW London have piloted initiatives including patient diaries and photographs, and/or operate ICU follow-up clinics, which may serve an important role in monitoring and diagnosing physical and non-physical effects of an ICU stay.