Delirium is a complex syndrome prevalent in the intensive care unit. It has been associated with significant morbidity including distress, longer hospital stays, prolonged cognitive impairment, and increased mortality.


To describe a nurse-led interdisciplinary quality improvement initiative to increase nurses’ knowledge of delirium, documentation of delirium assessment, and patient mobility.


Sixty-seven nurses in medical and surgical intensive care units were required to attend an interactive education program on delirium assessment and management. Scores on tests taken before and after the education program were used to evaluate knowledge. Medical records and bedside rounds were used to validate Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit documentation and interventions. Descriptive statistics were used to describe changes over time. A delirium resource team composed of nurses, physicians, and therapists provided didactic education paired with simulation training and bedside coaching. Mobility screening tests and computer templates guided assessments and interventions.


Documentation of the Confusion Assessment Method improved from less than 50% to consistently 99%. Mobilization in the surgical intensive care unit increased from 90% to 98% after intervention. Days of delirium significantly decreased from 51% before intervention to 31% after intervention (χ12=7.01, P = .008).


The success of this quality improvement project to enhance recognition of delirium and increase mobility (critical components of the pain assessment, breathing, sedation choice, delirium, early mobility, and family education bundle) was contingent on nursing leaders hip, interdisciplinary team collaboration, and interactive education.

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