Westfield Public Health Bulletin: For severe COVID, treatment has its own side effects

We have focused on the tremendous loss of deaths due to COVID-19. Followed by the overwhelming grief suffered by this nation and the world. Another less-talked-about consequence of this pandemic is in those patients and their families who survived serious illness and an ICU stay due to the COVID-19 virus.

There are many studies completed, in process and still more to come to understand the impact of COVID intensive care unit survivorship. Post intensive care syndrome, or PICS, is a well-studied syndrome seen in long-term ICU patients. Time spent in ICU can cause delirium due to the isolation, strange surroundings, side effects of medications, inability to communicate, loss of control and other processes. This may result in long-lasting sensations of dread, terror and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Patients have new disabilities such as impairments in physical, cognitive and psychological function. This leads to a change in quality of life, work, finances, status and persistent health symptoms. These changes extend to the caregiver and family. This burden of new disabilities creates another new public health problem.

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