Hospital patients who spend a long period of time in intensive care units may suffer from long-term cognitive impairments and mental deficits, as a result of the sedation in the intensive care unit. According to a new study published recently in the New England Journal Of Medicine, as many as 80% of patients who stayed in the hospital intensive care unit for a long period of time, displayed cognitive problems even a year or more after they returned home from the hospital.
The study does seem to indicate to California medical malpractice lawyers there are long-term consequences from such long-term intensive care hospitalization. More than 50% of the patients in the study also showed mental deficits that were very similar to those exhibited by persons who suffered from traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's disease.
It's easy to understand the reasons for such cognitive impairments. In an intensive care unit, patients are sedated for long periods of time and kept immobilized for their own safety. Many patients are also hooked up to mechanical ventilators. All of this is done with patient safety in mind. Sedation can help calm down the patient, ease anxiety and reduce the risk of agitation and panic.
However, these procedures that are essential in any intensive care unit also have a downside. Long periods of sedation can affect a patient's mental health. Such sedation can trigger a state of delirium.
The researchers have concluded from the study, whether you're healthy or suffer from several medical conditions going into an ICU, if you are required to stay for a long period of time in an intensive care unit, you are likely not coming out with your brain 100% intact. However, the researchers also say it is necessary to bring about changes in the current ICU systems and procedures to reduce the risk of such impact and also develop better recovery programs that help coordinate not just the physical recovery of the patient, but also complete psychological and cognitive recovery.