Diagnosing delirium in critically ill children: Validity and reliability of the Pediatric Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit*

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Abstract

Objective:

To validate a diagnostic instrument for pediatric delirium in critically ill children, both ventilated and nonventilated, that uses standardized, developmentally appropriate measurements.

Design and Setting:

A prospective observational cohort study investigating the Pediatric Confusion Assessment Method for Intensive Care Unit (pCAM-ICU) patients in the pediatric medical, surgical, and cardiac intensive care unit of a university-based medical center.

Patients:

A total of 68 pediatric critically ill patients, at least 5 years of age, were enrolled from July 1, 2008, to March 30, 2009.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements:

Criterion validity including sensitivity and specificity and interrater reliability were determined using daily delirium assessments with the pCAM-ICU by two critical care clinicians compared with delirium diagnosis by pediatric psychiatrists using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition, Text Revision criteria.

Results:

A total of 146 paired assessments were completed among 68 enrolled patients with a mean age of 12.2 yrs. Compared with the reference standard for diagnosing delirium, the pCAM-ICU demonstrated a sensitivity of 83% (95% confidence interval, 66–93%), a specificity of 99% (95% confidence interval, 95–100%), and a high interrater reliability (κ = 0.96; 95% confidence interval, 0.74–1.0).

Conclusions:

The pCAM-ICU is a highly valid reliable instrument for the diagnosis of pediatric delirium in critically ill children chronologically and developmentally at least 5 yrs of age. Use of the pCAM-ICU may expedite diagnosis and consultation with neuropsychiatry specialists for treatment of pediatric delirium. In addition, the pCAM-ICU may provide a means for delirium monitoring in future epidemiologic and interventional studies in critically ill children.

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