In Every Deep-Drawn Breath: A Critical Care Doctor on Healing, Recovery, and Transforming Medicine in the ICU, pulmonary and critical care specialist Dr. Wes Ely chronicles his career-long “journey back to [his] original oath – first do no harm.”
During his first rotation in critical care, Ely adhered to accepted ICU protocols, using endless arrays of interventions to “push back against death” for his medically sedated patients. While these heroic efforts often cured a patient’s original illness, Ely soon witnessed how a number of patients “acquired completely different ailments” after their ICU care. For some, a combination of debilitating physical, cognitive, or mental health complications, now collectively known as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), would encroach on, or even devastate, their ability to carry out the basic activities from their pre-ICU lives.
In the ensuing years, Ely would uncover new details about the life-changing effects wrought by the unfettered use of heavy medication, ventilation, and sedation on ICU patients. In response