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‘Post-Intensive-Care Syndrome’: Why Some COVID-19 Patients May Face Problems Even After Recovery

Erika Edwards

City-County Observer

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Nic Brown is lucky, and he knows it.
The 38-year-old father of three is recovering from the coronavirus after spending 10 days in Cleveland Clinic’s intensive care unit. He was kept mostly sedated while hooked up to a ventilator to help him breathe.
“There was a time during this process where the hospital reached out to my wife to have the discussion about end-of-life options,” Brown, of Tuscarawas County, Ohio, said. “It was very emotional for all of us.”
While a majority of patients who become infected with the coronavirus appear to have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, it’s becoming clear that those with the most severe complications must spend a significant amount of time in the ICU.

“We have people on ventilators for 20 to 30 days,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a news conference this week.

It’s a similar situation at the Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, which has become another hot spot in the coronavirus outbreak. Doctors there say COVID-19 patients rarely get better within two or three days, instead of remaining on mechanical oxygen for one to two weeks.

Critical care doctors know that the longer patients remain in the ICU, the more likely they are to suffer long-term physical, cognitive and emotional effects of being sedated.

In fact, those effects have a name: “post-intensive care syndrome.” Some physicians call it post-ICU delirium.

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