AB degree in Chemistry
University of Pennsylvania
MS Degree in Biochemistry
Jim was an independent public policy analyst specializing in energy and environmental issues for more than three decades.
He wrote a number of books, presented dozens of professional papers, and researched and edited two periodicals.
He consulted with government and industry leaders in over 20 countries and testified before the U.S. Congress six times.
Jim’s Picks #1
Welcome to Jim’s Corner
In late September 2010, a two-day meeting was held in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss the long-term consequences of extended intensive care unit (ICU) hospital stays after critical illnesses.
Highlights from the History of PICS
The meeting was convened by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), a leading international trade organization currently representing 16,000 physicians and nurses. In attendance were 31 medical specialists from 15 stakeholder groups invited by the SCCM. No post-ICU patients were included.
During the meeting, the stakeholders approved a new medical term, post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), to describe “new or worsening problems in physical, cognitive or mental health status arising after a critical illness and persisting beyond acute care hospitalization.” This diagnostic term was created to help doctors determine what is “wrong” with patients who survive critical illness, but don’t recover as fully as expected.
PICS itself was not invented at the Chicago meeting, of course. Patients who “didn’t make it all the way back” from severe medical crises were known for decades, but their symptoms were commonly ignored or even ridiculed. In the face of decades of stunning medical advances in saving lives, this collateral damage may have seemed a reasonable price to pay.
No more. The SCCM 2010 meeting launched a feverous quest to learn more about the factors contributing to the emergence of PICS, to enhance knowledge of the full range of impairments affecting the quality of life of its sufferers, and to develop treatment protocols to promote recovery, if not a cure. PICS sufferers are now recognized by the medical community as needing and worthy of help with the health problems they endure, but did not create.
This recognition may be just in time to help in the post-COVID era, where thousands of survivors of the virus are already experiencing persistent impairments. These unfortunates are termed “long haulers,” but their symptoms seem consistent with those of PICS. Hopefully, the decade of work so far to counter PICS, will help jump-start rapid development of treatments for COVID long haulers.
The events in Chicago were reported in a March 2012 medical journal article, “Improving Long Term Outcomes after Discharge from Intensive Care: Report from a Stakeholders' Conference.” The article was co-authored by a long list of doctors led Dale M. Needham, a leader in the PICS field from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It was published in Critical Care Medicine and is included in the PostICU library on this website.
In May 2020, two ICU survivors, James Cannon (that’s me) and Rob Rainer, each afflicted with life-altering impairments from PICS, linked arms to create a new nonprofit organization, Post ICU, Inc. Through their website, www.posticu.org, they hope to reach the wide PICS community to provide information, address medical questions, enhance communication, and create an organized voice promoting treatment and speedy recoveries for PICS sufferers.
These opportunities to find help appear among the various pages and links on this website. This web page contains two columns I will post on a periodic basis. This one is called “Jim’s Picks.” It will highlight medical discoveries and milestones in the quest to understand PICS, with links to relevant medical journal publications. It is accompanied by a second column called “Jim’s Story,” which is based on diary entries I maintained during my battle with PICS, including my medical emergency, ICU stay, recovery, and life as a PICS sufferer.