Every Deep-Drawn Breath: A Critical Care Doctor on Healing, Recovery, and Transforming Medicine in the ICU

Wes Ely. Scribner, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9821-7114-8
Ely, a critical care doctor, debuts with a remarkable look at transformations in ICU care. He opens with a confession—that he’d “sacrificed patient dignity and caused harm” as a young physician by trading “the priceless gift of eye contact and conversation for medically induced unconsciousness and...deep sedation.” For years, the standard practice was to keep patients on ventilators heavily sedated, but Ely began questioning the protocol after encountering numerous patients who suffered from “post-intensive care syndrome” and whose cognitive functioning had been dramatically impaired by the length of time spent unconscious. Ely discovered doctors in the U.S. and abroad who’d adopted different approaches, including reducing the duration and level of sedation, and active measures to keep patients mentally engaged, which he began to implement. Ely movingly recounts his efforts, notably when his vision of an improved ICU was put into place in 2014 with rooms that “were spacious, practical, and filled with light... and included a comfortable area for family members or friends.” And the revised, reduced-sedation “return to humanity” program, he writes, saves lives. This humble—and humbling—look at the limits and potential of medicine will stick with readers. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writer’s House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/21/2021
Release date: 09/07/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-3292-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-3290-7
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