Geriatric post-acute care model may also work for ICU patients, study finds

Intensive care unit patients often have complex needs following discharge, and a recent study finds that a model originally developed for older adults with dementia could actually help ICU patients successfully recover from their illnesses. 

The Eskenazi Health Critical Care Recovery Center was developed as a geriatric care model by the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute, a healthcare research firm. Because ICU survivors often experience cognitive impairments that are similar to dementia, the model may be adapted to help patients after discharge from the ICU. The model is the nation’s first collaborative care concept that focuses on the extensive cognitive, physical, and psychological recovery needs of ICU survivors.

Researchers at IU and Regenstrief studied the first 51 patients who were treated in the center. Eighty-eight percent of the patients, who were between the ages of 40 and 70, had some kind of cognitive impairment following discharge, and nearly 60% showed signs of depression after ICU care, conditions that were recognized in their follow-up appointments at the center.

More than three-quarters of patients needed medical ventilation, and close to half were given an antipsychotic medication for delirium. As many of these issues are similar to the postdischarge needs of geriatric patients, the researchers concluded that the model would likely benefit this population as well. 

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The model focuses "on the unique needs of ICU survivors, a growing population that does not receive specialized care it deserves,” said study senior author Babar A. Khan, M.D., of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research in the study announcement. “Our local example demonstrates how a healthcare system can be leveraged to develop and sustain a new model of care. The CCRC model can be modified and adapted at different healthcare systems depending on their individual culture so that ICU survivors receive the care they need and deserve.”

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center has also launched a similar initiative of ICU recovery centers, but many patients are unaware of the post-ICU options available and the benefits they may receive.

Previous research suggests that ICU recovery programs do improve patient outcomes and help patients regain confidence after an ICU stay, but hospitals may have to turn to nontraditional outreach approaches to encourage more patients to participate.