The syndrome of chronic critical illness has well-documented emotional, social, and financial burdens for individuals, caregivers, and the health care system. The purpose of this article is to provide experienced acute and critical care clinicians with essential information about the prevalence and profile of the chronically critically ill patient needed for comprehensive care. In addition, pathophysiology contributing to chronic critical illness is addressed, though the exact mechanism underlying the conversion of acute critical illness to chronic critical illness is unknown. Clinicians can use this information to identify at-risk intensive care unit patients and to institute proactive care to minimize burden and distress experienced by patients and their caregivers.

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