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Nov 18, 2021

Though “breath” is in the title of Wes Ely’s book (and his song choice by the Police), relationships are its beating heart.

The book operates on two levels.

On one level, Wes Ely’s book is an autobiography of a critical care doctor’s horror and shame at discovering that his ICU practice of heavily sedating patients for days on end was leading to lifelong physical, cognitive, and psychological harm; and the arc of his redemptive journey to find a better way to care for patients in the ICU.  

But this book also operates on a second, much deeper level.  On this deeper level the book is a story of Wes Ely’s journey toward rediscovering the humanity in medicine by forging deep, lasting connections with his patients.  We begin and end today’s podcast at this deeper level, talking about the spiritual connections, that doctors can forge caring for critically ill patients. (quick plug: next week’s podcast is with Chaplains on Spirituality and Palliative Care).

We are joined today by Lekshmi Santhosh, head of UCSF’s post-COVID and post-ICU clinic, to interview Wes about these themes that animate his book, and more, including how we lost our way in treating ICU patients during COVID, returning to the practice of heavily sedating patients for days on end.

Of note, Wes is donating proceeds from his book to the CIBS center, to benefit research and patient care to improve care for people with critical illness, during and after the ICU stay.