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COVID-19 Related

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Implementing the ICU Diary in the Medical Intensive Care Unit

Lyndsay Laxton, MOT, OTR/L

Occupational Therapy Association of Colorado

Medical Journal

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Critical Care Physicians, Nurses and/or Other Critical Care Medical Professionals

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Research has shown an increased prevalence of psychological distress and acute cognitive impairment in patients who have experienced hospitalization within the intensive care setting (Myers, Smith, Allen, & Kaplan, 2016; Pandharipande et al., 2013). Periods of mechanical ventilation, sensory deprivation, presence of noxious stimuli, and using sedation medication increase a patient’s risk of developing delirium and may result in hallucinations, traumatic memories of medical events, or the absence or fragmentation of memories throughout their intensive care experience (Myers et al., 2016). In 2010, stakeholders from the Society of Critical Care Medicine identified this phenomenon as Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) characterized by new or worsening physical, cognitive, or mental health problems after critical illness (Needham et al., 2012). PICS manifests in numerous ways, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as impaired global cognition and executive function (Myers et al., 2016). Current literature regarding intensive care survivors indicates that 30% of patients will experience depression and 70% will experience anxiety after discharge from the intensive care unit (ICU), with one third of patients developing PTSD symptoms in the first 2 years after critical illness (Bienvenu et al., 2013; Myers et al., 2016). Additionally, the duration of delirium can be an independent risk factor for below-baseline global cognition, as well as for impairment in executive functioning after discharge from the ICU (Pandharipande et al., 2013). In an effort to reduce the occurrence of PICS, health care professionals have used numerous non-pharmacological interventions, including early mobilization, environmental modifications, and the ICU diary (Álvarez et al., 2017; Garrouste-Orgeas et al., 2012; Schweickert et al., 2009).

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