A world-renowned critical-care doctor offers hope for patients, their families, and the future of medicine in this timely, urgent, and compassionate work about the devastating and little-known physical and emotional effects of ICU stays.
As COVID-19 survivors are discharged from hospitals, grateful to be alive, most don’t realise that the hardest part of their battle may be about to begin. Many will return home and struggle with long-term physical, mental, and emotional problems either caused or exacerbated by the life-saving treatment they received in intensive care. They’ll join the ranks of critical-care survivors whose lives are completely upturned by a hospital stay. More than half of the patients admitted to ICUs will struggle with post-intensive care syndrome, which can include Alzheimer’s-like cognitive deficits, PTSD, muscle and nerve damage, and depression. Their personal and professional lives can suffer irreparably. Worst of all, no one seems to understand that they have an illness at all. Not even their doctors.
Dr Ely is now a leader in the field of ICU survivorship — advocating for compassionate care in the technology-driven enclave of the modern ICU — especially relevant during the coronavirus pandemic. In Every Deep-Drawn Breath, Dr Ely sounds a warning for the millions of people who will be admitted to ICUs in coming years and a wake-up call for healthcare professionals — himself included — to turn their gaze from the latest life-saving machines to really see, as he says, ‘the person in the patient’.