Nashville is a leader in a field that may seem obvious, but is just emerging: making sure patients get proper care after they leave the ICU. That’s thanks to Vanderbilt Medical Center, which has now launched one of the world’s first networks of post-intensive care clinics.
One reason post-intensive care is so new, says Carla Sevin, who heads the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt, is because critical care itself only dates back to the 1970s.
"It wasn’t until we started having more and more people survive their critical illness," says Sevin, "that we had this huge population of ICU survivors to tell us that they were continuing to have problems after the ICU."
Some of those problems require long-term care like an IV drip, respiratory therapy or even counseling for PTSD, which often follows a traumatic hospitalization.
Sevin says at Vanderbilt, these patients get a follow-up with a team of doctors rather than a general physician as is typically prescribed. Plus, more than half of the hospital’s ICU survivors don’t even have a primary care doctor. Many don’t have insurance.
When Vanderbilt opened its ICU Recovery Center in 2012, it was the second in the nation. Now there a handful of such clinics across the country, yet Sevin says they work in relative isolation. Hence her decision to pool their real-world experiences into a network.
"We want to get all that knowledge together, figure out what works, what doesn’t, how can we best serve our patients with the least amount of cost and effort on the side of hospital systems," says Sevin.
This first year, the collaborative is limited to 11 clinics in the U.S. and United Kingdom, but the number of partners will likely mushroom.
Seevin says barely a week goes by without a call from someone in the US or abroad interested in joining the initiative or setting up an ICU recovery program of their own.