Clinic for Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

What is PICS?

PICS or Post-Intensive Care Syndrome is a group of symptoms that show up or present after critical care illness.  Most commonly, this means that a patient or a patient’s family may experience post-intensive care syndrome, or PICS, after a prolonged (or even short) ICU care stay and especially after mechanical ventilation.  The symptoms experienced by the patient or loved one can be broad, ranging from medical, emotional and psychological to physical ones.


What are some major symptoms of Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)?

Patients can have disrupted sleep patterns, difficulty falling asleep or awakening, insomnia, and/or insomnia.  Confusion and lack of memory surrounding the ICU and hospital events may also occur.

Emotional and psychological difficulties, including feelings of loneliness, high levels of stress, and altered perception of self-worth may also occur.  Fear of the dark or strangers may also be present.  Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common.  Anxiety, depression, flashbacks, panic, and/or unwanted memories may also develop.

After an ICU stay, a patient who was on a mechanical ventilator may have continued issues with his or her lungs, breathing muscles, and/or their vocal cords.  Breathing difficulties are not uncommon for patients who were on a ventilator.  A patient may have a tracheostomy tube in his or her neck, with need for further outpatient management.

Physical problems of PICS may include severe muscle weakness, nerve injury and pain; the loss of normal muscle function is nearly expected after a long intensive care illness.  Muscle weakness after ICU weakness can take a year or longer to recover.


Who may develop Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)?

Anyone who is hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU) with critical care illness is at risk for developing PICS.  Patients who are diagnosed by a physician during critical care illness with any of the following

  • respiratory failure
  • delirium (a state of confusion caused by illness, medications, or prolonged lack of sleep)
  • sepsis (a state of full body inflammation)
  • shock (the body’s cells receive low oxygen levels with low blood pressure)

are at the highest risk for showing signs and symptoms of post-intensive care syndrome (PICS).

PICS-F is the name for the post-intensive care syndrome that affects the patient’s family or loved ones due to their support of the patient during his or her critical care illness.  Long nights in the intensive care unit with a sick patient can take a toll on a family member; if the family member experiences emotional or psychological stress, then he or she may be affected by PICS-F.  Symptoms are usually the same as listed above.


The Clinic for Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

The UT Physicians Clinic for Post-Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS) at the Texas Medical Center in Houston is dedicated to providing individualized comprehensive evaluations once patients leave the intensive care.

Patients are evaluated with an initial comprehensive psychiatric, medical, and emotional examination.  Be prepared to complete self-assessment forms for testing of memory, sleep, and breathing symptoms.  Quality of life, sleep, and breathing will be assessed as well.  Prescription medications prescribed at the time of critical care illness will be reviewed and adjusted as medically appropriate.

We are committed to providing each patient with the tools to help manage their symptoms for a hopeful recovery.

Post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) can be a complicated and challenging condition, and our team will take the time to review your history and symptoms at each visit to provide a treatment plan that meets your needs.  Our physician may also work with other specialists to make sure you get the best care.  This may include primary care doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, neurologists, physical medicine doctors, and/or physical and respiratory therapists.

We believe providing patient and family education is an important part of post-intensive care syndrome (PICS) management, and our clinic has information on PICS action plans and other educational materials on PICS-F.


Clinic Location, Day and Times

UT Professional Building

6410 Fannin Street, Suite 600

Houston, TX 77030

Ph: 832-325-7222; Fax: 713-512-2247

Patient Resources