Delirium is an acute state of confusion that is accompanied by inattention, as well as cognitive and perceptual disturbances. Delirium can affect up to 80 percent of patients in a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Nurses at the Saint Francis Medical Center ICU have recently started using the Confusion Assessment Method-ICU (CAM-ICU) to identify and treat delirium as early as possible.
Under this method, Saint Francis nurses assess for delirium upon admission to the ICU and routinely throughout the patient’s ICU stay. When a patient appears to be in a state of delirium, an automatic alert goes to the pharmacist, physical therapist and respiratory therapist. Immediate interventions such as review of the patient’s medications, early mobility and activity, maintaining a balanced sleep-wake cycle or waning of the ventilator as early as possible can help identify causes of delirium.