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Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

What is Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)?

PICS is a collection of health problems which remain after a critical illness. It can include new or worsening impairments in physical, cognitive or mental health issues arising after a stay in critical care.

Why does PICS happen?

PICS happens because of many different things that occur in critical care including, but not limited to:

  • 24-hour care that does not promote adequate natural sleep
  • Breathing machines
  • Medications for sedation and pain
  • Immobility
  • Noise
  • Fear
  • Physical restraint to keep a patient safe from removing lifesaving tubes and lines

What does PICS look like?

Physical Symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or a change in sleep patterns

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Memory loss
  • Inability to focus
  • Trouble organizing and problem solving

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Anxiety/Panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may include nightmares and flashbacks

When can a patient experience or family member see the symptoms of PICS?

PICS symptoms usually occur after discharge, often weeks to months following a critical care stay, which makes it difficult to diagnose.

What should you do if you have the symptoms of PICS?

  • Reach out to your primary care provider and tell him/her about what you are experiencing.
  • Keep a diary of what you are feeling.
  • Look back at any education that you received while in the ICU or at discharge.

What is St. Cloud Hospital ICU doing to prevent PICS?

  • We assess patients daily, making sure to remove tubes and lines as quickly as we safely can.
  • Patients and families are given a diary which includes information about PICS and the equipment that is being used in the patient’s room. If you do not have a diary, please ask the ICU staff to get the information for you.
  • We educate our staff by sharing new PICS information as it becomes available.
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