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February 20, 2018

Preventing Delirium in the Intensive Care Unit

Author Affiliations
  • 1Malcolm Fisher Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2Northern Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
  • 3ANZICS Research Centre, School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 4Critical Care and Trauma Division, George Institute for Global Health, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia
  • 5Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Kensington, Australia
  • 6Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth, Western Australia
  • 7St John of God Hospital Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia
JAMA. 2018;319(7):659-660. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0159

Delirium is a complex problem, has a poorly understood pathophysiology, and usually manifests as a fluctuating disturbance of consciousness and cognition that develops over a short period and is associated with physical or mental illness.1 Delirium is not exclusively a complication of critical illness but develops in approximately one-third of patients treated in intensive care units (ICUs).2 The majority of these patients experience hypoactive delirium, a quietly confused state, rather than the more notable cases of agitated delirium, which present as overt hallucinations and hyperactivity.3

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