My experience of ESICM LIVES 2023

Published 11/01/2024 | Author Dr Christopher Shaw
Dr Christopher Shaw

Chris Shaw is an ST7 in intensive care medicine in the northwest. His interests include neuro critical care, sustainability and medical leadership.

The European Society of Intensive Care’s Annual Conference (LIVES) is typically held in destination cities across Europe, and when I saw that it was being held in Milan it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.  

I convinced one of my good registrar friends that us attending LIVES would be a good use of our time and our study budget, and we found an Airbnb that was only twenty minutes from the convention centre and twenty minutes from town, so we were well placed to experience the best of the city and the conference at the same time. Helpfully the conference was being held from Monday 23 – Wednesday 25 October, which allowed us to travel on the Friday for a weekend of sightseeing before the conference. Milan is a great city with all the things you expect from an Italian city – history round every corner, beautiful architecture and more pasta than you could shake a jar of Dolmio at.  

The conference itself was being held in the Milan Convention Centre, a building that is as architecturally striking as its name is unimaginative. It’s a large conference centre and easily had capacity for the over 5,000 intensivists, anaesthetists and allied health professional who all made the journey from across Europe, and indeed some from as far afield as New Zealand, China and the States. It’s a testament to the line-up of topics that so many were willing to travel so far just to be present.  

On the first morning it took a little while to get our ID badges (note to self – arrive before the talk you want to see starts), but once we’d received our passes everything went very smoothly.  

The first talk I went to see was a debate on how to improve the Green credentials of an ICU. Having been involved in sustainability groups at home this was an area of interest to me and there were several talks peppered across the conference that dealt with this – and lots of good tips to explore afterwards. Who knew nitrile gloves needed so much water to make!  

After that I spend the day going from talk to talk, covering various subjects – from progress on sepsis, pronation, advances in haemodynamic monitoring, respiratory failure – the topics were various but all very interesting and led by eminent voices in their field. I also discovered the ICU NEXT area. This was an area that was built for trainees, by trainees, and covers various aspects of intensive care and opportunities for career development. Of particular interest was the talk on how to develop a research career in ICU, with lots of helpful tips of people who have been there and done just that.  

The day flew by and before we knew it we were at LIVES welcome event with a striking performance by the Black Widows, an international dance troupe (you can find them on YouTube winning a golden buzzer on Italy’s Got Talent… if that means anything to you). The entertainment then changed to ESICM’s finest detailing the achievements of the society and its ongoing work, and recognising the achievements of its members over the preceding year. After that it was time for a well-earned pizza/pasta combo and a few too many mojitos on a street-side bar before a deep sleep and on to day two.  

Day two followed a similar pattern, albeit it was pouring down with rain this time so we got there on time but somewhat sodden. The atmosphere was anything but damp however, with another day of wide-ranging talks (highlights being the future of TBI management, molecular diagnostics in pneumonia and rescue techniques in ventilation). One of the biggest issues of the conference, in fact, was having to choose between so many interesting talks – fortunately they were all recorded so I can sit on the sofa and watch the ones I missed at a later date in my pyjamas.  

Unfortunately we both had work on Thursday, which meant Wednesday had to be a half day before flying home, but we still managed to catch interesting talks on the role of vasopressin in sepsis, a debate over RSI techniques in trauma and finally, one more talk on sustainability. After that it was off to the airport to reflect on a lot of new ideas, experiences and friendships made at the conference. Next year will be in Barcelona – I’ll see you there!