"improving intensive care in Scotland"

Delirium in ICU


Few studies have reviewed the additional impact delirium makes in determining outcome for critically ill patients.


1. Mortality:

Delirium is an independent risk factor for mortality: in the ICU, in hospital and at 6 months.

2. ICU Morbidity:

Those who survive have a longer hospital stay, fewer ventilator-free days and more failed tracheal extubations, self-extubations and dislodgement of catheters/lines.

3. Cognitive and psychological sequelae:

Prolonged periods of delirium in critically ill patients are associated with a higher incidence of cognitive impairment, including dementia at 3 months after hospital discharge. Rates of mental health diseases, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are high following critical care. Clinically significant depression occurs in as many as 30% of ICU survivors whilst 15-40% experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

4. Cost

The severity and duration of delirium has a financial impact. Delirium is associated with a 39% higher expenditure in ICU and 31% higher overall hospital costs.

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