Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

Thankfully most people survive a stay in the ICU and leave the hospital. Leaving the hospital is good news but being an ICU patient can be a life altering experience.  Some individuals go right back to their normal lives. Other people may have persistent symptoms of depression, stress, forgetfulness, insomnia, or physical weakness. These symptoms can sometimes be severe and persist for years after the ICU stay. 

The medical community has a name for these symptoms that can affect intensive care unit survivors. It is called post intensive care syndrome or PICS. The Society of Critical Care Medicine defines PICS as new or worse health problems after critical illness that remain after leaving the hospital. These problems can be with a person’s body, thought, feelings, or mind. We now recognize that PICS can effect both patients and their family members.  Family members of ICU patients may experience high levels of anxiety, fatigue, and intrusive thoughts. You can learn more about family and patient support after critical illness from the Society of Critical Care Medicine here

The medical community is working on developing strategies to prevent PICS from developing and to treat PICS after it is diagnosed. One form of treatment many ICU survivors find beneficial is meeting and socializing with other people who have gone through a stay in the ICU. UCSF sponsors a patient and family peer support group that has monthly meetings. Information on the time and location of the meetings can be found on this Facebook page