Beyond the ICU: Discharge from the ICU
For patients and loved ones who have experienced critical illness, it is no secret how frightening the ICU can be. Often times people find themselves in an environment in which they have never been before, surrounded by people they have never met, and facing circumstances they couldn't have imagined. Surprisingly quickly however, those strangers become the comforting familiar faces of the care team, new ICU routines replace one's previous "normal" daily life, and the intensity eases. This isn't to say that the ICU ever becomes comfortable, but for many patients and loved ones the ICU provides a sense of security that is difficult to replicate.
Transitioning out of the ICU to a general care floor and eventual discharge from the hospital can be a time of mixed emotions for many people. It is often a clear sign of improvement in one's medical condition, but it can also be met with feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Responsibilities that had been managed by the hospital care team are now fully in the hands of the patient and loved ones.
I felt that transitioning home from the ICU was like going on a long, anxiety-filled trip without a roadmap - @seanne via Mayo Clinic Connect
There are steps one can take to help ease this transition and to make this path more clear. The Society of Critical Care Medicine has developed a short video explaining how to make the transition home after a stay in the ICU easier on everyone involved. This video covers topics such as home going equipment, medications, follow-up appoints and tests. Click this link to watch the brief video: Discharge After a Critical Illness
Of course, clear communication with all those involved in transitions of care out of the ICU is ultimately the most important step. Here are some quick tips to aid in that communication:
- Write down any questions that come time mind. Often times in the midst of change, things can easily slip our mind. It can be very helpful to keep a written list of questions as they occur.
- Ask these questions to your care team before leaving the hospital. Make sure to seek clarification on anything that is not fully understood.
- Have a family member or loved one present during discharge education. Having an additional person who is knowledgeable about the next steps forward is very helpful.
Come back soon and join our discussions about what to expect Beyond the ICU.
In the meantime, join our conversation online. Have you or a loved one experienced critical illness/injury? You're not alone. Share your story and connect with others who have been on the same journey: Intensive Care (ICU)