The seventy years since critical care became a specialty have been marked by vast technological advances shaping how we care for patients with critical illness or injury. New discoveries have informed our understanding of illness and have led to novel therapies for conditions ranging from infection to life-threatening hemorrhagic shock. Accordingly, an increasing number of patients survive their critical illness and define a unique group of patients known as “ICU survivors.” Their struggles during recovery—as well as those of their loved ones—inspired us to craft this book as a guide and a touchstone. Since patient-and-family centered care is at the heart of team-based critical care, it is important to recognize the key role that loved ones play during convalescence, and the difficulties that they encounter. Our textbook targets patients, family members, but also primary care clinicians as these three often navigate recovery well outside of the ICU, and clinicians whose practice is principally confined to the hospital. We expect that this book will also be of interest to hospital-based providers, including hospitalists and ICU providers, who care for patients in the early phases of care but may be ill-equipped to provide anticipatory guidance about the journey to recovery.
We have arranged this book in three sections: (1) multiprofessional ICU team members and their roles and perspectives on ICU care, (2) innovative methods of promoting recovery, and finally (3) unique populations encountered in the ICU. Our goal is to help place all of the complex care that is required in the ICU into a framework that is readily understood, and to explore its impact on recovery. Within each chapter is a specific section dedicated to “Tips for Clinicians” that we hope will help further improve how care is rendered while including patients, loved ones, and primary care clinicians as part of a global team. Therefore, not all of the chapters are authored by healthcare professionals. In fact, this book opens with chapters from patients who describe their life-threatening illness, their journey to recovery, and the clinicians who helped them along the way. Each day, patients and family members just like them—and just like you—remind us of the joy found in caring for others.