OBJECTIVES Delirium is a well-described complication of critical illness, with occurrence rates of >25% in the PICU, and associated morbidity. Infants in the NICU are likely at risk. There have been no previous screening studies to quantify delirium rates in the neonatal population. We hypothesized that delirium was prevalent in term neonates in the NICU. In this pilot study, our objective was to estimate prevalence using a validated pediatric delirium screening tool, which has not yet been tested in NICUs. METHODS In this point prevalence study, all term or term-corrected infants admitted to the NICU on designated study days were screened for delirium using the Cornell Assessment of Pediatric Delirium. RESULTS A total of 149 infants were eligible for screening over 8 study days. A total of 147 (98.6%) were successfully screened with the Cornell Assessment of Pediatric Delirium. Overall, 22.4% (n = 33) screened positive for delirium. Delirium was more commonly detected in children on invasive mechanical ventilation (67% vs 17%, P < .01) and those with underlying neurologic disorders (64% vs 13%, P < .01). A multivariate logistic regression revealed that neurologic disability and mechanical ventilation were both independently associated with a positive delirium screen (aOR: 12.3, CI: 4.5–33.6 and aOR: 9.3, CI: 2.5–34.6, respectively). CONCLUSIONS Our results indicate that delirium likely occurs frequently in term-equivalent infants in the NICU. Further research is necessary to establish feasibility, validity, and interrater reliability of delirium screening in this population.
Pediatric delirium is an important comorbidity of medical illness in inpatient pediatric care that has lacked a consistent approach for detection and management. A clinical pathway (CP) was developed to address this need. Pediatric delirium contributes significantly to morbidity, mortality, and costs of inpatient care of medically ill children and adolescents. Screening for delirium in hospital settings with validated tools is feasible and effective in reducing delirium and improving outcomes; however, multidisciplinary coordination is required for implementation. The workgroup, composed of international experts in child and adolescent consultation psychiatry, reviewed the literature and developed a flowchart for feasible screening and management of pediatric delirium. When evidence was lacking, expert consensus was reached; stakeholder feedback was included to create the final pathway. A CP expert collaborated with the workgroup. Two sequential CPs were created: (1) “Prevention and Identification of Pediatric Delirium” emphasizes the need for systematic preventive measures and screening, and (2) “Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Delirium” recommends an urgent and ongoing search for the underlying causes to reverse the syndrome while providing symptomatic management focused on comfort and safety. Detailed accompanying documents explain the supporting literature and the rationale for recommendations and provide resources such as screening tools and implementation guides. Additionally, the role of the child and adolescent consultation-liaison psychiatrist as a resource for collaborative care of patients with delirium is discussed.