Delirium is a condition characterized by an acutely changing or fluctuating mental status, inattention, disorganized thinking, and altered level of consciousness, and is underdiagnosed in the intensive care unit (ICU). In this issue, Devlin et al report survey results about delirium assessment. Here are some facts about the condition:

  • Although delirium is classically described as a hyperactive state (agitated or combative), more patients in the ICU with delirium are hypoactive (psychomotor slowing) or have a mixed picture.

  • The primary risk factor for delirium is preexisting cognitive impairment.

  • The Society of Critical Medicine practice guidelines recommend patients be routinely screened (at least once every 12 hours) for delirium using a validated screening tool.

  • The ICDSC and CAM-ICU are validated delirium screening tools that are efficient and easy to use. Although few nurses involved in the studies that validated the ICDSC...

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