Symptoms And Treatment Of Delirium

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Delirium is an acute change in brain function that can be accompanied by inattention and either a change in cognition or perceptual disturbances (Allen and Alexander, 2012). Delirium in critical care patients is very common, it actually occurs in 2 out of 3 intensive care patients who are on a ventilator, but often goes undetected because delirium monitoring is considered too time consuming or unreliable (Reade and Finfer, 2014). Intensive care unit (ICU) patients that have delirium spend more days on a ventilator, remain on sedation longer, have increased chance for infections, have longer hospital stays, and higher mortality rates during their hospital admission and in the 6 months after.
According to Eastwood, Peck, Bellomo, Baldwin, and Reade (2012), most of these patients are also left with permanent cognitive problems that they struggle with for years. Not only does delirium cause more issues with the patients, it can cost the hospital more money due to increased length of stay, hospital acquired infections such as pneumonia, and re-admissions. Studies have shown that using the confusion assessment method (CAM) every shift, and performing the assessment correctly, can help detect delirium in ICU patients earlier. When delirium is caught early the healthcare team can initiate interventions to decrease the severity of delirium and work towards better outcomes for the patient.
Identified Current Practice Issue
ICU patients are not being assessed for delirium every

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