If you’ve ever visited a family member or friend in the hospital it is an overwhelming emotional scene with the amount of machinery, loud constant noises, code calls over the intercom, and staff going in and out of the room. Not to mention the increase concern you have for your loved one, it can make anyone one in their right mind go delirious for that brief moment. Now imagine being one of those patients, critically ill, in bed most of the day where their physical, emotional, and mental abilities that have become altered. It came to my surprise that over 7 million Americans out of about 36 million of hospital admissions have been affected by cases of delirium each year (Boodman, 2015)
Delirium is a “sudden disruption of consciousness and cognition marked by vivid hallucinations, delusions, and an inability to focus”. It occurs suddenly and typically fluctuates throughout the day. One patient mentioned his delirium being like nightmares, although he knew that he was in the hospital and was sick he could not awaken from this terrible reality even after 3 years of being discharged from the hospital (Anthony Rossum, 2014). Some patients with delirium can be agitated and combative while other are lethargic and inattentive (Boodman, S., 2015), which makes me wonder, how many patients I have worked with in the hospital, whom had these horrible experiences and were silent about it. It wasn’t until recently that delirium was recognized or understood said Dr. Wes Ely from Vanderbilt University. Nearly, two thirds of Ely’s patients from the ICU reported signs of delirium, which led to his research and developed successful protocols in improving care and decreasing delirium in over six well known hospitals. The main interventions he utilized were the following ICU measures, in acronym: “ABCDEF,” which includes: Assessing and managing pain, Both Spontaneous Awakening Trials (SAT) and Spontaneous Breathing Trials (SBT), Choice of Sedation/Analgesia, Delirium Monitoring, Early Mobility and Family engagement which after these interventions studied over 50% of the drugs normally given for sedation were decreased or cut cold turkey, showing a 4 day decrease stay in the ICU, and decreasing mortality rate up to 15%.
If you get a chance, please watch the story of Anthony Russo delirium he explains in the video above, I am a loss of words what he experienced in the ICU. I believe it will help in opening the eyes of what can be reality for these patients we care for everyday, as well as identifying how the long term complications can even occur after their discharge home from the ICU.
The astonishing fact is researchers have estimated that about 40% of delirium cases are preventable, which surprises me that so many people are still experiencing this reality this last year 7 million cases, especially for those elderly whom are at higher risk due to their sensitivity receiving large doses of anti-anxiety drugs and narcotics.
Brain injury is preventable by lowering exposure to potent sedative meds and shortening the duration of delirium with assessment and monitoring with the ABCDEF method. Think about it, it costs more than 143 billion annually to care for such delirium patients due to their longer hospital stays and complications, more is needed to be done in these preventable cases to reach out to those whom needs us most. Educate yourself and follow such articles on assessment tools in detecting delirium in patients.
Here are some examples:
Boodman, S. (2015). The Overlooked Danger of delirium in Hospitals. The Atlantic Article. Published by Kaiser Public Health News. Retrieved from: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/the-overlooked-danger-of-delirium-in-hospitals/394829/
Landro, L. (2011). Informed patient: changing sedation status quo in the ICU. Health Blog, Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2011/02/15/changing-the-sedation-status-quo-in-the-icu/