Learning to thrive after a patient survives

Dr Ravi Sonawane stands in front of a window
ockingham General Hospital ICU Head of Department and Researcher Dr Ravikiran Sonawane
November 7, 2018

Understanding the effect of surviving a stint in an intensive care unit (ICU) is the premise of a new study by Rockingham General Hospital ICU Consultant Dr Ravikiran Sonawane.

Dr Sonawane said the number of patients leaving ICU alive has increased steadily over the years.

“Survival rates in ICUs have been improving with enhanced care in recent times. Our focus is now shifting to not only improving survival but also quality of life, so patients can resume their baseline quality of life again after a significant stay in hospital,” he said.

“When patients leave ICU we are finding they have what we call ‘Post-intensive care syndrome’ (PICS), where they suffer from physical weakness and mental affliction.

“These symptoms are serious and can last months and, in some cases, the rest of their lives.

“The effect of weakness has a huge impact on their day to day functioning and overall lifestyle. In addition to this, people can experience increased anxiety, nightmares, partial recollection and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms which can be difficult to overcome without support.

“In the older population we are finding these after effects can sometimes change patient’s treatment decisions.”

The study will survey 100 patients throughout their first year of discharge from the ICU, at six and 12 month intervals, to analyse their emotional wellbeing and the community resources they may be using to aid their recovery.

Dr Sonawane hopes the study will help raise issues to shape the future of ICU services and allow for ICUs to offer follow up outpatient clinics.

“If we can extend the scope of an ICU beyond survival and into discharge we hope to assist patients in achieving a holistic recovery,” he said.

“By doing this research we can improve our practices and give patients the best chance at life.”

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