March 29, 2018 – Delirium in the ICU


Anchor lead: A solution to the development of delirium in people in intensive care units is still needed, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Haloperidol is a medication that has been used for a long time in intensive care units in an attempt to prevent delirium in patients, a very troubling and sometimes persistent acute confusion. Now a recent study shows haloperidol isn’t helpful. Dale Needham, an intensive care expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Needham: Delirium is incredibly important because it’s associated strongly with long term cognitive impairments. Patients having difficulty with memory and planning and organizing tasks, months or years after their critical illness. Medications are an area where people are very much interested in, this is a very important study, but unfortunately its demonstrated that medications aren’t the right approach or at least this medication, haloperidol. Likely for delirium there’s not going to be a magic bullet in terms of medications.

Needham has long advocated other strategies such as reduced sedation and early mobilization to reduce some of the trauma of an intensive care unit stay. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.