The Dangerous Effect of Delirium in Intensive Care Unit: Implication for Nurses

Ehwarieme Timothy Aghogho


Intensive care unit (ICU) syndrome and ICU psychosis have been used to mean a cluster of psychiatric symptoms that are common to the ICU environment. It is often posited that the ICU environment causes a lot of sleep deprivation and sensory overload or monotony, which result to this syndrome. However the study has shown that ICU syndrome does not differ from delirium and that it is caused exclusively by organic stressor on the central nervous system. Delirium is defined by the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV) as a disturbance of consciousness with in attention, accompanied by a change in cognition or perceptual disturbances that develop over a short period of time (hours to days) or fluctuates over time. Delirium can be classified into three types according to psychomotor behaviour as; hyperactive, hypoactive and mixed. Reports have shown that more than 80% of ICU patients develop delirium and patients with delirium have a three time increased risk of death when compared to those without delirium. Each additional day spent in delirium has been associated with a 20% increased risk of remaining in the hospital and 10% increased risk of death. In addition, delirium is associated with a higher ICU cost and also predisposes ICU survivors to prolong neuropsychological deficit. Nurses are at the forefront in the assessment and prevention of delirium; however study has shown that nurses have poor knowledge and skill in delirium assessment. Hence this review helps to further sensitize the health professional especially nurse on the dangerous effect of delirium.


Keywords: Delirium, ICU, psychosis, dangerous, implication


Cite this Article Ehwarieme Timothy Aghogho. The Dangerous Effect of Delirium in Intensive Care Unit: Implication for Nurses. Research and Reviews: Journal of Neuroscience. 2015; 5(3): 1–13p.




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