Management after intensive care
Sunil Kumar and Nicola Cooper give a systematic approach
Intensive care is for people with life threatening conditions who need constant monitoring or intervention or both to keep vital organ systems functioning. Many doctors do not realise that the overall mortality for patients in intensive care in the United Kingdom is about 25% depending on the illness. Intensive care units have greater doctor to patient ratios than other areas. Some patients are admitted to intensive care electively around the time of major surgery. Others are admitted as emergencies, for example, because of severe sepsis or respiratory failure. Once patients are well enough, they are transferred to a normal ward. In many hospitals outreach teams continue to monitor patients after they leave an intensive care area for the first few days because this is a crucial time. The UK Department of Health's definition of different levels of care is given in box 1.
Boxes 2 and 3 give a checklist