Research in Critical Care

Our intensive care unit (ICU) actively supports medical and nursing research to improve patient care. Several research projects, mainly about sepsis and airway disease, are currently underway in the unit. 

You/your relative may be asked to take part in one of our research studies, either while you are waiting to come into hospital/ICU, while you are in hospital or even after you have returned home. If approached, you will be given detailed information about the study and time to decide whether or not to take part. There is no obligation to participate and your treatment will not be affected in any way if you say no or if you say yes but change your mind at a later date and withdraw your consent.

In order to carry out research we may need to access your medical records. Before doing so, we will present a plan of investigation to the Research Ethics Committee for their approval. This is to assure that the research will be conducted to high standards and that your personal details will be kept confidential.

A legal representative can be asked to give consent on behalf of an adult lacking capacity to do so themselves. In ICU this will usually be a doctor. The legal representative is a person not connected with the conduct of the trial who is suitable to act as the legal representative by virtue of their relationship with the adult, and is available and willing to do so.

If one is not available the personal legal representative must be able to consent on the behalf of the adult.

The personal legal representative must be:

  • Told that they are being asked to give consent on behalf of the incapacitated adult
  • Told that they are free to decide whether they wish to make this decision or not, and
  • Told that they are being asked to consider what the adult would want, and to set aside their own personal views when making this decision.

Why should I/ my relative get involved in research?

The modern NHS aims to provide the best possible care for its patients and the only way to decide which methods of care are best, is through research.

Clinical research is entirely dependent on the assistance offered by patients, and does not affect usual standards of care.

The specialist nature of our work means the results of our research are often of national and international significance and are made freely available through conference presentations and publications in medical and nursing journals.

Many patients are very pleased to have the opportunity to take part and to give something back to the NHS.

What could I be asked to do?

Most research studies are designed so that patients are asked to do only one or two things in addition to having their routine treatment. For example we might ask you or your relative to fill out some questionnaires, provide a blood or tissue sample or have an additional test.

If we need a sample of your blood or tissue for future research we will ask you to sign a separate form consenting to this. Any information about you will be held anonymously.

How will I understand what the research is all about and what it might mean for me/ my relative?

A member of the research team will explain the study and give you a leaflet containing further details. You will be asked to take time to discuss it with your family, friends and GP if you so wish.

The information sheet will have the contact details of the research team should you need further information or advice at any stage.

When you return to hospital a member of the research team will be available to discuss the study further and answer any questions.

If you are happy to/for your relative to participate you will be asked to sign a consent form. You can withdraw your consent at any time without giving a reason and this will not affect your treatment, either now or in the future.

Studies available:


A study exploring the genetics of critically ill patients, who could be more susceptible to infections.

Click here to view the patient/relative information.


A UK trial for treating patients with COVID in and outside of the ICU.

At the beginning of COVID-19 we were looking into ways of treating COVID-19 and reducing the severity of the illness. As time has passed we have found treatments that work and some that haven’t. Each successful treatment has been standardised for the NHS treatment of COVID-19.

Click here to view the patient information. 


A trial to provide safe sedation to patients in ICU.

Click here to view the patient information. 


A trial looking at three rapid tests to detect fungal infection. Producing faster results for more accurate treatment sooner.

Typically, 7 per cent of patients in ICU receive treatment for fungal infection and the majority are started on a presumptive basis. Of these, only 1 in 20 have fungal infection confirmed.

Click here to view the patient information. 


A trial looking at whether using a lower oxygen target (conservative oxygen therapy) to guide oxygen treatment might lead to better outcomes for patients when compared with the approach currently used in the NHS.

Click here to view the patient information. 


A trail designed to determine whether use of mucoactives in critically ill patients with acute respiratory failure improves outcomes and is cost effective, compared to usual airway clearance management, while mechanically ventilated.

Click here to view the patient information. 


We wish to investigate whether giving deceased organ donors a single dose of the drug Simvastatin, a very inexpensive and safe drug, is beneficial for transplant recipients.

All organs removed from donors have already suffered a degree of damage. As the brain dies chemicals are released which cause an inflammation of the whole body. Measurements of this inflammation link to how well the organs function in the recipient after transplant.

In parallel, we know the cholesterol-lowering drugs statins have benefits across a range of health problems which go beyond the direct benefits on cholesterol. In particular, statins damp down inflammation in the body and in individual organs and protect the lungs and kidneys in a range of illnesses.

Click here to view the patient information. 


A trail evaluating the clinical and cost-effectiveness of sodium bicarbonate administration for critically ill patients with acute kidney injury (AKI)

The importance of this research, for critically ill patients in the NHS and globally, hinges both on the prevalence of AKI, which is associated with an increased risk of mortality, prolonged critical care unit and hospital length of stay, and development of chronic kidney disease (CKD)

Click here to view the patient information. 

We run studies across the whole of Medway Maritime Hospital and within the community. You can contact us if you are interested in participating in research outside of the ICU department.

Click here to find out more about Research and Innovation at Medway.