Examining post-ICU care

After surviving a period in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU), patients often face a range of ongoing health issues, such as pain, physical disability, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

An article in the January-February 2019 issue of Harvard Magazine profiles Daniela Lamas, a pulmonary and critical-care physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, who has established a clinic to help identify the needs and difficulties of former ICU patients and to discuss their quality-of-life goals.

Lamas is also a researcher in the serious-illness program at Ariadne Labs, a joint project of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s. At Ariadne, Lamas researches conversation tools to help doctors talk effectively with seriously ill patients about feasible goals and quality-of-life issues.

Ariadne is led by Atul Gawande, professor of health policy and management at Harvard Chan School and a Brigham surgeon. Gawande told Harvard Magazine that Lamas is recognizing a major issue—that each year, 6 million people in the U.S. go into intensive care and about 5 million are discharged home, “and what it is to return home after often incredible trauma and devastating illness, sometimes lingering difficulties and conditions.” Noting that experts have much to learn about the challenges faced by this population of patients, he added, “We’re helping people survive who never survived before, and it’s their struggles she’s given voice to.”

Read the Harvard Magazine article: What It Means to Be OK