Posted on Oct 05, 2013

Patients have often complained of neural issues after surgeries and long stays in the ICU. Now studies show that there is evidence that links procedures to neural problems and doctors are being urged to reduce patients’ stay to prevent delirium.

Reuters reports that numerous people have thinking and memory problems following extended stays in the ICU and after surgeries. “They found ICU patients who were delirious - severely confused and unable to focus - were especially likely to go on to have thinking and memory problems,” according to Reuters.

A doctor from Vanderbilt told Reuters, “The longer you are delirious, the more likely you are to have long-term cognitive impairment that looks like Alzheimer's disease or traumatic brain injury.” Doctors had previously assumed that patients would be fine after leaving the ICU. But then in most cases the delirium, memory-loss and other issues persisted outside the hospital as well for a year or longer.

Doctors are now realizing that patients who are delirious may be more seriously ill than they realized. One physician told Reuters, “We need to redouble our efforts to reduce the number of days people are delirious and prevent it if we can.” “Doctors have known for years that certain patients are prone to some degree of thinking problems after hospital procedures. For example, one study from last year found almost half of heart surgery patients developed delirium and their minds often remained dulled for a year.” according to Reuters.

The leading author of this study told Reuters, “What is new about this study is that cognitive problems were seen among patients with a wide range of illnesses.” All the patients used in the study are also said to be extremely ill and none of the patients had neural problems at the time they were admitted to the hospital; the neurological problems began after they were taken in for treatment.

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Gerry Oginski
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