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Crit Care. 2002 Oct;6(5):411-7. Epub 2002 Aug 15.

Clinical review: Intensive care follow-up--what has it told us?

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Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


The majority of intensive care practitioners, until comparatively recently, was content to discharge surviving patients to the care of referring primary specialty colleagues who would undertake subsequent inpatient and outpatient care. With the exception of mortality statistics from clinical studies, the practitioners were thus denied the opportunity of understanding the full impact of critical illness on a patient and their family. The concept of the intensive care follow-up clinic has developed more recently, and is run commonly on multidisciplinary lines. These clinics serve a number of purposes, but importantly have drawn attention to broader patient-centred outcomes after intensive care. Investigators are just beginning to identify, and in some cases quantify, the postdischarge burden on patient and family; additional useful data have also come from follow-up of specific disease states. The purpose of the present review is to highlight some of the important issues that impact on recovery from critical illness towards an acceptable quality of postdischarge life. We have concentrated on the adult literature, and specifically on studies that inform us about the more general effects of critical illness. Head and spinal injury are thus largely ignored, as the effects of the primary injury overwhelm the effects of 'general' critical illness.

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