One of the mysteries of intensive carepatients is that about half of them endup with delirium, a fluctuating state ofserious confusion and inability to focusor pay attention.
Delirium is hard to identify. And itseffects can last long after patients leave ahospital.
Those effects include depression,anxiety and impaired cognitive abilities.And family members can also beaffected by delirium; they are at risk ofdepression and anxiety.
In Calgary, researchers spearheadingthe Family Intensive Care Unit DeliriumDetection Study (FIDDS) hope to reducethe rates and effects of delirium amongpatients and families. FIDDS is one ofonly a handful of Canadian studies toinclude families in the care of patientswith delirium. Ultimately, the goal is toreduce stays in intensive care units andhospitals.
“We’re asking family members to bemore engaged in care, hopefully for thebetterment of everyone,” says KirstenFiest, who holds a PhD in epidemiology.
She is the study’s principal investigator
and an assistant professor in three
departments at the University of
Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.
Fiest and her team recruited 142patient and caregiver teams for thestudy, which ran from November 2017to September 2018 at Calgary’s FoothillsMedical Centre intensive care unit. Thestudy was supported by the CanadianInstitutes of Health Research and theCanadian Frailty Network.
Researchers asked caregivers tomeasure delirium symptoms in theirloved ones, using two assessment tools.The goal was to see if healthcare workerscould also use those tools in an intensivecare unit.
Fiest plans to publish the results thisspring. And she hopes the findings canbe used in other areas where delirium iscommon, such as pediatrics.
The work of Fiest and her team couldhelp inform the ongoing efforts of theAlberta Health Services ProvincialICU Delirium Initiative, which seeksto minimize the effects of delirium andimprove patient outcomes in all 21intensive care units across Alberta.
Families join in detecting the mystery of delirium
WRITTEN BY JACQUELINE LOUIE
MOVING PAST ILLNESS
Researcher Kirsten Fiest isspearheading a study targetingthe rates and effects of deliriumat the Foothills Medical Centre inCalgary.
Photo by MJay Photography