INJURY LAW BLOG

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When an ICU stay results in post traumatic stress disorder

Posted by Smiley & Smiley on Aug 1, 2013 10:35:02 AM

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition most often associated with combat veterans, accident victims and victims of violent crime. However, PTSD can develop as a result of any kind of significantly traumatic experience. Recent studies indicate that due to a variety of factors including hospital negligence, severe pain, disorientation and/or respiratory failure, up to 35 percent of patients who have been hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU) experience symptoms of PTSD as a result of their hospitalization.

However, partially because PTSD is not generally associated with ICU hospitalization, patients are not generally screened or properly treated for their resulting PTSD symptoms. Studies are only now beginning to clearly define the fact that this patient care problem exists and the ways in which it is affecting former ICU patients.

PTSD can be debilitating. It can affect one’s ability to work, maintain healthy relationships and to function in happy and healthy ways. Symptoms of PTSD can include uncharacteristically reckless behavior, avoidant behavior, nightmares, emotional numbness, intrusive thoughts and mood swings.

Thankfully, physicians are increasingly recognizing the development of PTSD in ICU patients and are beginning to screen for the condition and recommend appropriate treatment for it. Patients and loved ones who recognize some of these symptoms in accident victims who have been hospitalized in the ICU may wish to consult their physicians and attorneys about potential PTSD development. Both medical and legal options aimed at righting this harm may be available. Simply because PTSD is not generally associated with ICU hospitalization does not mean that it does not occur and cannot be addressed.

Source: The New York Times, “Nightmares After the I.C.U.” Jan Hoffman, July 22, 2013

Topics: hospital-negligence, Medical Malpractice, negligence

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