Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the Intensive Care Unit Patient: Implications for Staff and Advanced Practice Critical Care Nurses

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Abstract

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a rather common psychiatric diagnosis, and potentially is a very debilitating disorder. In PTSD, patients exhibit specific debilitating symptoms in response to exposure to an extreme stressor. Conditions in the intensive care unit (ICU) can exacerbate previously diagnosed newly developed PTSD, and in some cases cause PTSD. This diagnosis potentially puts both the patient and nursing staff at increased risk for harm, and is associated with increased utilization of medical services. Critical care staff and APNs can take actions to screen for at-risk patients, emplace safety protocols, and advocate for affected patients within the healthcare team.

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