Applying best evidence using simple easily remembered tools appeals to my small and busy brain. A system of minimising the impact of intensive care on long term brain function is proposed using an ABCDE mnemonic: awakening, spontaneous breathing trials, coordinating these two with target-based sedation, delirium monitoring and scoring, and early mobility therapy / exercise.
Delirium (sometimes called ‘acute confusional state’) is a common clinical syndrome characterised by disturbed consciousness, cognitive function or perception, which has an acute onset and fluctuating course.
Some snippets from the guideline include:
If indicators of delirium are identified, carry out a clinical assessment based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria or short Confusion Assessment Method (short CAM) to confirm the diagnosis.
In critical care or in the recovery room after surgery, CAM-ICU should be used. A healthcare professional who is trained and competent in the diagnosis of delirium should carry out the assessment.
If there is difficulty distinguishing between the diagnoses of delirium, dementia or delirium superimposed on dementia, treat for delirium first.
If a person with delirium is distressed or considered a risk to themselves or others and verbal and non-verbal de-escalation techniques are ineffective or inappropriate, consider giving short- term (usually for 1 week or less) haloperidol or olanzapine.
The CAM-ICU assessment tool is demonstrated in the video below, which is found along with other helpful delirium resources at http://www.icudelirium.co.uk