Patients with delirium have changes in their thinking and are often confused and cannot pay attention. About half of patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) have delirium during their stay. Research has shown that patients with delirium are more likely to die or to have long-term brain problems, including posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health issues, than those without delirium.
Although nurses and doctors have tools to measure delirium in the ICU, it can be hard to identify and, in some cases, may be missed. Family members may be the first to notice that their loved ones have changes in their thinking or cannot pay attention. There are tools called the Family Confusion Assessment Method (FAM-CAM) and Sour Seven questionnaire that can be used by family members to detect delirium. However, neither of these tools has been used in an ICU.
This study from Krewulak et al., published in CmajOPEN, shows that these tools can be used by family members to measure delirium in the ICU. The results from this study could lead to a change in policy that would involve partnering with family members to improve the diagnosis of delirium in the ICU. In turn, this would improve patient and family care and outcomes in the ICU.