Covid-19 likely to increase incidence of hospital delirium

26 May 2020 (Last Updated May 26th, 2020 16:31)

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, there will be more patients who have severe Covid-19 and require longer intensive care unit (ICU) stays and ventilation. An estimated 70%-80% of these ventilated patients will experience ICU delirium, which causes patients to enter a confused state. This can lead to long-term cognitive impairments and memory deficits. Pharmacological treatments for ICU delirium may see an increase in administration as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 5% of Covid-19 patients need ICU hospitalisation. Patients who are ventilated spend a longer time in the ICU, remaining ventilated for up to two weeks. This puts these patients at an increased risk of developing post-intensive care syndromes, which cause physical, cognitive, and mental health problems even after leaving the ICU. ICU delirium is one of these issues and can cause patients to have even longer hospital stays and lower six-month survival. These cognitive impairments can persist for months to years after being discharged from the hospital.

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