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Question for ICU Staff about providing information for patients about their time in ICU

Hello. As part of a research project led by Suzanne Bench of Kings College London, I helped put together a staff training pack about writing patient discharge summaries. These are a lay summary for the patient, written by critical care staff, explaining why they were in critical care and what treatments they had. The provision of individualised information for patients is important because we know that many patients can have little or no understanding of their time in Critical Care, and a discharge summary can be the first step in helping them understand what has just happened to them. It is a brief summary, so less than one page of A4 and takes less than 15 minutes for staff to do. The training pack was launched in 2012 and is a free resource on the ICUsteps website icusteps.org/professionals/...

We have had many downloads of the pack, but would now like to hear from units using it about the benefits and/or any difficulties you’ve found (or if you decided not to provide these summaries and what prevented you).

4 Replies

Hi my sister has been in royal free since the 9 th march and still there now ( most of her stay has been in ICU) after having a liver transplant , she also had Crohns for 29 years which has lead to her being very poorly , she is now back in ICU ( her 5 time) and I know they are doing a daily diary for her which her nurse writes in at the end of there shift , which I know once she is well enough she will enjoy reading , as the passed 7 months has been a massive blur for her , myself and our mum has also done our own diary for her . It a great idea for those that has lthese long stay in ICU


Hi Karla. Diaries certainly are a valuable yet simple tool to help patients fill in the time we've missed while we've been sedated or too ill to remember. Thankfully patient diaries are getting more support thanks to the sterling work of people like Christina Jones and Peter Nydahl of the ICU Diary Network (http://www.icu-diary.org), although this post is about the different subject of discharge summaries that follow patients to the general ward, which is also an area that really needs to improve.

I hope your sister's situation improves and our thoughts are with you and your family for a positive outcome.



I am looking at introducing the patient discharge summary on a general ICU. Concerns of staff include how to write the summary in a way that does not cause or increase patient distress and the best time to give the summary to the patient. I am keen to learn from the experiences of other units and patients who may have recieved a discharge written for them.

Julie-ICU Sister


I am also looking into the provision of information prior to discharge from ICU, and would value input from any staff that are using this resource, and any feedback from patients/relatives that have been given one. Thanks.

ICU staff nurse


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