ICUs Try to Get Patients Out of Bed

Mobile, lightly sedated patients fare better, study finds
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2009 12:23 PM CST
An ICU stay can leave a patient weak and disturbed for months or years, doctors have found.   (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
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(Newser) – Doctors are finding that ICU patients who are woken every day and even get up and walk around do better than those who remain heavily sedated, the New York Times reports. A recent study showed that just 5 days on a ventilator left some patients barely able to move. Problems after an ICU stay include weakness, weight loss, and post-traumatic stress.

"My opinion is that maintaining some awareness of reality is better for your psyche,” one doctor said in explaining why it makes a difference to wake patients. Some hospital staffers are skeptical, though: It takes a team of people to make gravely ill patients mobile. But the docs involved in the study hope their forthcoming clinical trial will prove that it's worth it.