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ICU Diary

An Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Diary is a tool to help relatives and friends keep a narrative of a patient’s hospital stay and recovery.  The diary can help you organize the information you receive from the ICU team and highlight questions or clarifications you may need.  Writing can also be a healthy outlet for the expression of feelings.  

A diary can also be useful later on to help your loved one understand their time in the Morristown Medical Center ICU and their recovery milestones.

What Should I Write in the ICU Diary?

  • A good starting point can be what brought your loved one to the ICU
  • A general idea of the care they received and how they progressed while in the ICU
  • Personal messages and news from home can decrease their sense of the loss of time

Why do we recommend keeping an ICU Diary?

Decreases False Memories

Keeping an ICU diary has been shown to reduce the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder in patients and families following critical illness.

Stress Reduction

Some patient’s memories can be affected by the use of sedative drugs or by the illness itself. Often patients have little or no factual memory of their stay and instead develop false memories of their time in the ICU. Though false, the memories can feel real. The ICU diary can help patients understand some of the general and factual things related to their care.

Decreases Sense of Time Loss

As ICU patients recover many feel a sense of the loss of time during their stay. Keeping a record of their time in the ICU can help orient and ground patients during their recovery by filling in the gaps.

Assists with Relatives and Caregivers Experience

  • Former patients report a greater ability to empathize with the experience and feelings that their family member/caregiver endured while they were in the ICU.
  • The diary promotes understanding and increases patient and family/caregiver connection.
  • Writing and journaling about difficult experiences provides an outlet, helps create new meaning and fosters growth. Writing can also highlight questions you may have or alert you to information you need clarified.

You can ask an ICU staff member if you would like a diary, or download it here >

Download our ICU Diary Spanish version >