Delirium occurs in 60 to 80% of mechanically ventilated patients and is independently associated with more deaths, longer stays in hospital and higher costs: every day spent in delirium is associated with a 10% higher risk of death and decreased long-term cognitive function.
E.Wesley Ely, from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, USA, and colleagues followed a total of 261 individuals who were patients in the medical centre's intensive care unit for longer than 24 hours and did not require invasive mechanical ventilation. The patients were followed from their admission to either death or discharge from the hospital. Delirium, or a state of changing mental status, inattention and disorganised thinking, was monitored by the nursing staff and assessed using the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit every 12 hours.
The results show that 48% of patients experienced delirium. This group of patients had a higher mortality rate: 19% of them died, compared to just 6% of patients who hadn't experienced delirium. Patients who experienced delirium at least once also had a 29% greater risk of remaining in the ICU and a 41% greater risk of remaining in the hospital. Overall, delirium was associated with a one day longer stay in the ICU and two days longer in the hospital.
"Considering the rising overall resource use and economic burden of caring for critically ill patients, our finding that ICU delirium is an independent predictor of longer stay in the
Contact: Juliette Savin