Document Detail

Delirium in the intensive care unit: a review.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19366412     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
AIM: The aim of this paper was to review the current discourse in relation to intensive care unit (ICU) delirium. In particular, it will discuss the predisposing and contributory factors associated with delirium's development as well as effects of delirium on patients, staff and family members. BACKGROUND: Critically ill patients are at greater risk of developing delirium and, with an ageing population and increased patient acuity permitted by medical advances, delirium is a growing problem in the ICU. However, there is a universal consensus that the definition of ICU delirium needs improvement to aid its recognition and to ensure both hypoalert-hypoactive and hyperalert-hyperactive variants are easily and readily identified. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The effects of ICU delirium have cost implications to the National Health Service in terms of prolonged ventilation and length of hospital stay. The causes of delirium can be readily classified as either predisposing or precipitating factors, which are organic in nature and commonly reversible. However, contributory factors also exist to exacerbate delirium and having an awareness of all these factors promises to aid prevention and expedite treatment. This will avoid or limit the host of adverse physiological and psychological consequences that delirium can provoke and directly enhance both patient and staff safety. CONCLUSIONS: Routine screening of all patients in the ICU for the presence of delirium is crucial to its successful management. Nurses are on the front line to detect, manage and even prevent delirium.
Emma Arend; Martin Christensen
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nursing in critical care     Volume:  14     ISSN:  1478-5153     ISO Abbreviation:  Nurs Crit Care     Publication Date:    2009 May-Jun
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-04-15     Completed Date:  2009-07-23     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9808649     Medline TA:  Nurs Crit Care     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  145-54     Citation Subset:  N    
General Intensive Care Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK.
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MeSH Terms
Cost of Illness
Delirium* / diagnosis,  epidemiology,  etiology,  prevention & control
Health Facility Environment
Intensive Care / methods*
Intensive Care Units / organization & administration*
Length of Stay
Mass Screening
Nurse's Role
Nursing Assessment
Primary Prevention / methods
Safety Management

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