What Will Happen?

Having a loved one in an ICU can be an overwhelming emotional experience.

You want to know what will happen next.

You need to know what to expect.

In the ICU we are often asked the following questions:

  • What are the chances of survival?

  • Will there be permanent disability?

  • Where do I turn for answers to my questions?

  • Your doctor and nurse are the very best sources of information to answer these questions. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for the doctor or nurse to accurately predict outcome, particularly in the first hours or days of an ICU stay. Many factors, such as the nature and severity of the underlying illness or injury, must be considered. The patient's age and usual health status also play a role. Even though prediction of outcome is difficult, you should feel free to discuss these issues with your ICU Team.

    While your doctors' and nurses' experience is critical in predicting outcome, many ICUs also use well-accepted, validated, computerized scoring systems to predict outcome (outcome prediction model). Several of the most commonly known prediction models include the Mortality Prediction Model (MPM) and the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE).

    You must be aware that no system of prediction is completely accurate. These prediction systems are most accurate when applied to large numbers of ICU patients rather than individual patients.

    Additional Information

    The following sections should help you gain a better idea of what will happen. To learn more, click on the specific topic.


  • What outcome should I anticipate?
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  • Predicting Outcomes in the ICU