Meeting the needs of critical care patients after discharge home

With improved survival rates in critical care, increasing focus is being placed on survivorship and how best to support patients in returning to their former activity | Nursing in Critical Care

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Objectives: To describe former critical care patients’ perspectives on the support needed to optimize recovery.

Findings: Four themes of support were described: effective management of transfer anxiety, tailored information provision, timely access to services and a supportive social network.

Conclusion: Survivors of critical care should be equipped with information about their critical care stay, ongoing health issues and recovery and should be provided with holistic care at home. Critical care follow up was an effective way of meeting many of these needs, but this needs to be flexible to be useful to attendees. Peer support groups (face-to-face and online) provided information, reassurance, a social network and an avenue for those who had longer-lasting problems than current services provide for.

Relevance to clinical practice: Whilst there are commonalities in the problems faced by critical care survivors, recovery is highly individualized, and current support services do not have sufficient flexibility to cater for this. This study shows that many survivors experience after-effects of critical care that outlast the support they are given. These longer-term survivors are often excluded from research studies because of fears of recall bias, resulting in poor understanding of their experiences.

Full reference: Allum, L. et al. (2017) Meeting the needs of critical care patients after discharge home: a qualitative exploratory study of patient perspectives. Nursing in Critical Care. Version of Record online: 22 Jun 2017

Muscle mass and physical recovery in ICU

We have significantly improved hospital mortality from sepsis and critical illness in last 10 years; however, over this same period we have tripled the number of ‘ICU survivors’ going to rehabilitation | Current Opinion in Critical Care

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Furthermore, as up to half the deaths in the first year following ICU admission occur post-ICU discharge, it is unclear how many of these patients ever returned home or a meaningful quality of life. For those who do survive, recent data reveals many ‘ICU survivors’ will suffer significant functional impairment or post-ICU syndrome (PICS). Thus, new innovative metabolic and exercise interventions to address PICS are urgently needed. These should focus on optimal nutrition and lean body mass (LBM) assessment, targeted nutrition delivery, anabolic/anticatabolic strategies, and utilization of personalized exercise intervention techniques, such as utilized by elite athletes to optimize preparation and recovery from critical care.

New data for novel LBM analysis technique such as computerized tomography scan and ultrasound analysis of LBM are available showing objective measures of LBM now becoming more practical for predicting metabolic reserve and effectiveness of nutrition/exercise interventions. 13C-Breath testing is a novel technique under study to predict infection earlier and predict over-feeding and under-feeding to target nutrition delivery. New technologies utilized routinely by athletes such as muscle glycogen ultrasound also show promise. Finally, the role of personalized cardiopulmonary exercise testing to target preoperative exercise optimization and post-ICU recovery are becoming reality.

Full reference: Wischmeyer, P.E. et al. (2017) Muscle mass and physical recovery in ICU: innovations for targeting of nutrition and exercise. Current Opinion in Critical Care: Published online: June 7, 2017

Diaries for critical care patients

Teece, A. BMJ Evidence-Based Nursing blog. Published online: 8 January 2017

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Critical care nurses have a duty to provide rehabilitative care (NICE, 2009). So how can nurses make a positive impact on their patients’ psychological recovery? Patient diaries are increasing in popularity in the UK after originating in Scandinavia. The subject of a recent Cochrane review (Ullman et al., 2015), the evidence base for diaries and guidance for those completing them remains scanty. However, the premise is simple and low cost. Nurses complete entries throughout the patient’s critical care admission, describing events and the environment in layman’s terms. The diary is given to the patient after discharge, often at a follow-up clinic where further support can be accessed. The aim is, simply, to fill in memory gaps and encourage discussion.

Read the full blog post here