Delirium in the ICU: What About the Floor?

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Abstract

Delirium was first described in the 1800s as acute, fluctuating confusion. Recent studies note an incidence of 15% in adult intensive care unit patients. Here we present the first prospective study to evaluate the incidence and risk factors for delirium in patients admitted to the trauma surgeon (TS) in non-critical care areas (NCCAs). Patients 18 years or older admitted to any TS in the designated NCCA were evaluated and consented for participation over a 3-month period. Participants were screened with the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) every 12 hr. Those positive for delirium (CAM+) were administered the CAM-Severity. In addition, 69 other previously identified risk factors were evaluated. Over 3 months, 148 patients were evaluated, 12 of whom were CAM+ (8%). Of patients 65 years or older, 21% screened positive for delirium. Age, education level, presence of Foley catheter, respiratory distress, orthopedic operation, and lack of ambulation were risk factors associated with delirium (p < .05). Among all TS patients in the NCCA, we found delirium to be present in 8%. Our nurses identified a 21% incidence of delirium in patients 65 years or older. Given this significant incidence, screening at-risk patients in the NCCA should be considered.

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