Don't call me crazy! Delirium occurs outside of the intensive care unit

Anthony Cahill, Christopher Pearcy, Khalid Almahmoud, Vaidehi Agrawal, Usha Mani, Phillip Sladek, Michael S. Truitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Delirium has been well studied among patients in the intensive care unit (ICU); however, data beyond the ICU is limited. The purpose of this study is to prospectively evaluate the incidence and associated risk factors for delirium in noncritical care areas (NCCA). Methods After institutional review board approval, a prospective cohort study was conducted at our urban Level I Trauma Center from December 2015 to February 2016. All patients admitted to the designated study area by a trauma surgeon were included. The Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) was administered every 12 hours until discharge. Delirious patients (CAM+) were administered the CAM-S to quantify the severity of delirium. Demographics, laboratory data, and inpatient medication lists were analyzed. Results Of 148 participants, 12 (8%) were CAM+ and 136 (92%) were CAM-. The average CAM-S of CAM+ patients was 7 ± 3. Included patients were aged 52 ± 20 years and 45% were men. Of patients 65 years or older, 9 (21%) were CAM+. Medications associated with delirium were: albuterol (p = 0.01), atorvastatin (p = 0.01), duloxetine (p = 0.04), sertraline (p = 0.04), folic acid (p = 0.01), thiamine (p = 0.01), vitamin D (p < 0.001), haloperidol (p = 0.04), metoprolol (p = 0.02), and vancomycin (p = 0.02). Abnormal laboratory values associated with delirium included: Albumin (p = 0.03; odds ratio [OR], 7.94, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-63.20), Calcium (p = 0.01; OR, 4.95; 95% CI, 1.5-16.7), Sodium (p = 0.04; OR, 3.91; 95% CI, 1.13-13.5), hematocrit (p = 0.04), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (p < 0.05; OR, 5.29; 95% CI, 1.19-23.46). Conclusions Our study demonstrated an 8% incidence of delirium overall in NCCA, increasing to 21% in patients 65 years or older. Many risk factors identified among NCCA patients are consistent with the ICU literature; however, our CAM+ patients had additional risk factors which have not been previously associated with the development of delirium. Screening of NCCA patients for delirium should be considered. Level of Evidence Prognostic and Epidemological, level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-69
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Confusion Assessment Method
  • Delirium
  • delirium risk factors
  • intensive care unit
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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