Delirium severity does not differ between medical and surgical intensive care units after adjusting for medication use

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Springer Nature

Severe delirium is associated with an increased risk of mortality, institutionalization, and length of stay. Few studies have examined differences in delirium severity between different populations of critically ill patients. The objective of the study was to compare delirium severity and the presence of the four core features between adults in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) and medical intensive care unit (MICU) while controlling for variables known to be associated with delirium. This is a secondary analysis of two parallel randomized multi-center trials conducted from March 2009 to January 2015 at 3 Indianapolis hospitals. A total of 474 adults with delirium were included in the analysis. Subjects were randomized in a 1:1 ratio in random blocks of 4 by a computer program. Patients were randomized to either haloperidol prescribing or de-prescribing regimen vs usual care. Delirium severity was assessed daily or twice-daily using the CAM-ICU-7 beginning after 24 h of ICU admission and until discharge from the hospital, death, or 30 days after enrollment. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay, hospital and 30-day mortality, and delirium-related adverse events. These outcomes were compared between SICU and MICU settings for this secondary analysis. Out of 474 patients, 237 were randomized to intervention. At study enrollment, the overall cohort had a mean age of 59 (SD 16) years old, was 54% female, 44% African-American, and 81% were mechanically ventilated upon enrollment. MICU participants were significantly older and severely ill with a higher premorbid cognitive and physical dysfunction burden. In univariate analysis, SICU participants had significantly higher mean total CAM-ICU-7 scores, corresponding to delirium severity, (4.15 (2.20) vs 3.60 (2.32), p = 0.02), and a lower mean RASS score (- 1.79 (1.28) vs - 1.53 (1.27), p < 0.001) compared to MICU participants. Following adjustment for benzodiazepines and opioids, delirium severity did not significantly differ between groups. The presence of Feature 3, altered level of consciousness, was significantly associated with the SICU participants, identifying as Black, premorbid functional impairment, benzodiazepines, opioids, and dexmedetomidine. In this secondary analysis examining differences in delirium severity between MICU and SICU participants, we did not identify a difference between participant populations following adjustment for administered benzodiazepines and opioids. We did identify that an altered level of consciousness, core feature 3 of delirium, was associated with SICU setting, identifying as Black, activities of daily living, benzodiazepines and opioid medications. These results suggest that sedation practice patterns play a bigger role in delirium severity than the underlying physiologic insult, and expression of core features of delirium may vary based on individual factors.

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Ortiz D, Lindroth HL, Braly T, et al. Delirium severity does not differ between medical and surgical intensive care units after adjusting for medication use. Sci Rep. 2022;12(1):14447. Published 2022 Aug 24. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-18429-9
Scientific Reports
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