Delirium in critically ill patients

Crit Care Clin. 2015 Jul;31(3):589-603. doi: 10.1016/j.ccc.2015.03.011. Epub 2015 May 4.


Delirium in the intensive care unit (ICU) is a common diagnosis, with an incidence ranging between 45% and 87%. Delirium represents a significant burden both to the patient and to the health care system, with a 3.2-fold increase in 6-month mortality and annual US health care costs up to $16 billion. In this review, the diagnosis, epidemiology, and risk factors for delirium in the ICU are discussed. The pathophysiology of delirium and evolving prevention and treatment modalities are outlined.

Keywords: Critically ill; Delirium; Encephelopathy; Intensive care unit.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness*
  • Delirium* / classification
  • Delirium* / epidemiology
  • Delirium* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Risk Factors