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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Risk and clinical-outcome indicators of delirium in an emergency department intermediate care unit (EDIMCU): an observational prospective study

José Mariz1234, Nadine Correia Santos123, Hugo Afonso1, Pedro Rodrigues4, António Faria4, Nuno Sousa123* and Jorge Teixeira4

Author Affiliations

1 Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Health Sciences, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal

2 ICVS/3B’s, PT Government Associate Laboratory, Braga/Guimarães, Portugal

3 Clinical Academic Center – Braga, Braga, Portugal

4 Emergency Department, Intermediate Care Unit (EDIMCU), Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2013, 13:2  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-13-2

Published: 29 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Identification of delirium in emergency departments (ED) is often underestimated; within EDs, studies on delirium assessment and relation with patient outcome in Intermediate Care Units (IMCU) appear missing in European hospital settings. Here we aimed to determine delirium prevalence in an EDIMCU (Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal) and assessed routine biochemical parameters that might be delirium indicators.

Methods

The study was prospective and observational. Sedation level was assessed via the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale and delirium status by the Confusion Assessment Method for the ICU. Information collected included age and gender, admission type, Charlson Comorbidity Index combined condition score (Charlson score), systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria (SIRS), biochemical parameters (blood concentration of urea nitrogen, creatinine, hemoglobin, sodium and potassium, arterial blood gases, and other parameters as needed depending on clinical diagnosis) and EDIMCU length of stay (LOS). Statistical analyses were performed as appropriate to determine if baseline features differed between the ‘Delirium’ and ‘No Delirium’ groups. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to assess the effect of delirium on the 1-month outcome.

Results

Inclusion and exclusion criteria were met in 283 patients; 238 were evaluated at 1-month for outcome follow-up after EDIMCU discharge (“good” recovery without complications requiring hospitalization or institutionalization; “poor” institutionalization in permanent care-units/assisted-living or death). Delirium was diagnosed in 20.1% patients and was significantly associated with longer EDIMCU LOS. At admission, Delirium patients were significantly older and had significantly higher blood urea, creatinine and osmolarity levels and significantly lower hemoglobin levels, when compared with No Delirium patients. Delirium was an independent predictor of increased EDIMCU LOS (odds ratio 3.65, 95% CI 1.97-6.75) and poor outcome at 1-month after discharge (odds ratio 3.51, CI 1.84-6.70), adjusted for age, gender, admission type, presence of SIRS criteria, Charlson score and osmolarity at admission.

Conclusions

In an EDIMCU setting, delirium was associated with longer LOS and poor outcome at1-month post-discharge. Altogether, findings support the need for delirium screening and management in emergency settings.

Keywords:
Emergency department; Intermediate care units; Short stay units; High dependency units; Delirium; Confusion assessment method; Length of stay; Osmolarity