A new meta-analysis has found that delirium, a condition developed by many patients in hospital intensive care units (ICU), is associated with higher mortality rates, more complications, longer stays in the ICU, and longer hospitalizations.
Patients with ICU related delirium typically suffer from disturbances in consciousness, disorganized thinking or may become delusional. Delirium in the ICU may be caused by underlying medical conditions, and can be triggered by stress, lack of sleep, unfamiliar surroundings, lights and sounds in the unit, or develop as a side effect of medications.
The meta-analysis, which appears in General Hospital Psychiatry, found that ICU patients with delirium were three times more likely to die than patients without delirium and six times more likely to have one or more complications. They were also kept in the ICU for more than seven days longer and were hospitalized more than six days longer than non-delirious patients.
"This is important since it further confirms that delirium is a disease entity that has significant impact on clinical outcome," said lead author Zhongheng Zhang, MM, an intensive care specialist at Jinhua Municipal Central Hospital in Jinhua, Zhejiang, China. Further research can help determine whether control or management of delirium can alter the disease course of critical illness, he said.