What happens when they leave the ICU?

  1. Has anyone ever thought, what ever happens to their patients when they leave? Do they go on to live normal lives? Do they make meaningful recovery? Did we mentally give up on our patients too soon thinking that's they were lost causes?

    Perhaps this is the reason we burn out! We rarely or never see he good that comes out of all the torture we put people though. I want to know that I am making a difference, don't you? Does anyone have a system at their hospital where patients can write in and tell you where they are today? That they made it through rehab and have had meaningful recovery? Send pictures?

    Please share any ideas for tracking this, I would like to get it started in my unit!
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    About Tifftazia, ADN

    Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 24; Likes: 3
    RN Transfer Coordinator


  3. by   nurseprnRN
    "Tracking it" could get you uncomfortably close to HIPAA-violation-land. Your best bet is to tell the patients and families when they leave, "Let us know how you're doing!"
  4. by   Nalon1 RN/EMT-P
    Truthfully, I don't care. I take the best care of them I can, but when they are gone, they are gone from my mind.

    I see burnout coming from when you get too attached. I have felt like this ever since I started as a paramedic in '96.
  5. by   Guy in Babyland
    I have a co-worker who scans the obits and tells us when a patient dies. I am in the mindset of not getting too attached. Save the ones you can and move on.
  6. by   SoldierNurse22
    We had long-termers who would frequently come in to see us. It's a double-edged sword, though. Just because someone's recovered doesn't mean they'll stay that way (oncology wards... y'know?).
  7. by   ktliz
    I completely agree with Nalon1 that it is best not to get too attached. Luckily, I have always been the type of person who can feel extremely connected to someone in the moment, yet be able to say goodbye fairly easily when it's time to move on. Sometimes I wish I knew what happened to patients clinically, more so for my own knowledge than anything else. I have to say there is only one patient that I still think about, though. If I knew he eventually succumbed to his cancer, I would grieve. But, it wouldn't take away from any of the fulfillment I got from taking care of him. He was the most positive person I've ever met, making the most of every single day on this planet, and I know I helped him make the most of his stay in our ICU.

    We do have a bulletin board in the staff break room where we post thank yous and updates from patients/families, and sometimes the stories are really neat. We just had an older gentleman send us a picture of him figure skating, holding his partner above his head. He had been a surgical patient. Of course, medical patients generally don't do as well, with some exceptions. I remember in nursing school I had a patient who was as septic as someone can get. A year later, working as a nurse on the unit, I was thrilled to see a picture of him on the bulletin board. He had survived with bilateral BKAs to show for it, and the picture was him at physical therapy, walking on his new prostheses. Pretty cool.
  8. by   lub dub
    I believe there would be more burnout if nurses saw how few of their patients left the unit and went on to never having a meaningful recovery. Sometimes it's better not knowing...
  9. by   Here.I.Stand
    I work in a SICU which includes trauma (level 1) and neuro. We have a fair amount of pts and their families come to visit us after they're out of the LTACH or done w/ rehab; mostly it's our trauma pts. Sometimes we'll get a thank-you card a while after they've left the ICU also, and they'll include a little update. If the family has invited us to, we'll look at their Caring Bridge from time to time. And then sometimes we'll get an obit, but usually that's not a surprise.
  10. by   itsmejuli
    After my son recovered from his TBI and coma he went back to thank everyone who cared for him.
    His recovery and the care he received is what really inspired me to go into nursing.