Delirium is associated with increased mortality, morbidity, hospital costs, and postdischarge cognitive dysfunction. Most research focuses on nontrauma patients receiving mechanical ventilation in the intensive care unit.
To determine the prevalence and predictors of delirium in trauma patients residing in intensive and intermediate care units of an academic medical center.
Trauma patients were screened for delirium by using the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit. Exclusion criteria included documented brain injury, history of psychosis or cognitive impairment, not speaking English, and hearing or vision loss.
Of the 215 study patients, 24% were positive for delirium; 36% of patients in the intensive care unit and 11% of patients in the intermediate care unit. Delirium-positive patients were older (mean age, 53.4 years) than patients who were not (mean age, 44 years; P = .004). Although mechanical ventilation (odds ratio, 4.73, P = .004) was the strongest independent risk factor for delirium, 12% of delirium-positive patients were not receiving mechanical ventilation. Other predictors of delirium were use of antipsychotic medications, higher scores on the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation III, and lower scores on the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale.
Patients in both the intermediate and intensive care units, whether mechanical ventilation was used or not, were positive for delirium. Delirium prevention protocols may benefit trauma patients regardless of their inpatient location.