Intermountain Medical Center critical care physician-researcher, Samuel M. Brown, MD, MS, signed a contract to publish a book describing present and future research on how physicians and nurses can improve the way care is delivered in hospital intensive care units (ICUs).
The book, tentatively titled: Through the Valley of Shadows: Humanizing Intensive Care, is slated to be published in early 2016 by Oxford University Press. Dr. Brown said his inspiration was seeing patients in hospital ICUs survive life-threatening illnesses and injuries but then suffer significant psychological distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder, some of which relates to the way intensive care is delivered. Similar emotional distress often affects family members as well as patients.
“The technologies of intensive care in this country have advanced to an astonishing level, in terms of what we can do to treat people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries,” said Dr. Brown. “We’ve developed powerful medications, life support technologies, surgical techniques, and organizational principles that routinely save people who would’ve died of their illnesses just a few years ago. But we haven’t done a good job in figuring out how to make the ICUs more humane places, where dignity is preserved and patients and their families can feel more in control of what is happening to them during a frightening period in their lives.”
Dr. Brown, director of the Center for Humanizing Critical Care at Intermountain Healthcare, is involved in a number of research initiatives aimed at making medical care of acute life-threatening illness and injury more humane and patient-centered.
In various collaborations and initiatives, the Center is involved in multiple projects to understand differences in how people process stressful situations, how to fix advance directives to make them more useful, how to help people recover strength, mental and psychological health after an ICU stay and how to help people process the decisions that arise during the course of an ICU stay.
“We have an incredible opportunity to re-shape the way intensive care is delivered at Intermountain and across the country,” he said. “I hope this book will foster conversations that will dramatically advance that change.”