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Am J Med. 2006 Jan;119(1):22-9.

Management of psychiatric problems in critically ill patients.

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  • 1University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Critical care units have become essential elements in modern medicine. These units reflect the highest levels of scientific and technological advance in medicine. Within these units, however, lie significant psychiatric challenges for patients and staff. This article examines the identification and treatment of the most frequent psychiatric problems facing patients entering critical care units, including delirium, depression and anxiety. These conditions are important to address in order to decrease patient suffering and improve morbidity and mortality. The article also addresses some of the most common staff stressors encountered in working in these units. Managing these stressors makes the critical care unit a place where staff can flourish instead of burning out. Specific techniques may help the staff deal with the complex medical, psychological, and ethical issues found in these units in an empathic, compassionate, and well-balanced manner that allows ongoing work satisfaction.

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