Delirium affects up to 80% of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) but is missed in up to 75% of cases. Telehealth in the ICU (tele-ICU) has become the standard for providing timely, expert care to remotely located ICUs.
This pilot study assessed the feasibility and acceptability of using tele-ICU to increase the accuracy of delirium screening and recognition by ICU nurses.
The pilot sites included 4 ICUs across 3 hospitals. A geriatrician with delirium expertise remotely observed 13 bedside ICU nurses administering the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU (CAM-ICU) to patients in real time via the tele-ICU platform and subsequently provided training on CAM-ICU performance and delirium management. Training evaluation consisted of a validated spot check form, a 2-item satisfaction/change-of-practice survey, and a qualitative question on acceptability.
Thirteen ICU nurses were observed performing 26 bedside delirium assessments. The top observed barriers to accurate delirium screening were CAM-ICU knowledge deficits, establishment of baseline cognition, and inappropriate use of the “unable to assess” designation. The mean percentage of correct observations improved from 40% (first observation) to 90% (second observation) (P < .001). All 13 nurses strongly agreed that the training was beneficial and practice changing.
The use of tele-ICU to improve the accuracy of delirium screening by ICU nurses appears to be feasible and efficient for leveraging delirium expertise across multiple ICUs. Future studies should evaluate the effects of tele-ICU delirium training on patient-centered outcomes.