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Post-Intensive Care Syndrome: Recognizing the Critical Need for Psychiatric Care

Sophia Wang, MD , You Na P. Kheir, MD , Duane Allen, MD , Babar Khan, MD, MPH

Psychiatric Times

Medical Journal, Newspaper Article

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Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) is a rapidly growing phenomenon in older adults. As survival rates from ICU hospitalizations have increased over the past few decades, the long-term cognitive, psychological, and physical sequelae of the illness have become a major challenge in critical care medicine. More than half of all ICU survivors suffer from at least one PICS-related impairment, and these effects can persist as long as 5 or more years.

PICS has become an increasingly important phenomenon in older adults for several reasons. First, the number of older adults with critical illness is rapidly increasing as the population ages and now accounts for about 50% of ICU admissions. Second, more than 70% of older adults hospitalized in the ICU develop delirium, which is a major risk factor for ICU-acquired cognitive impairments. Third, cognitive and functional impairment before an ICU hospitalization increases the likelihood of cognitive and functional decline afterward.

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