COVID and Delirium

A Waking Nightmare for COVID-19 Patients

In a new documentary coronavirus survivors describe frightening experiences in the intensive care unit. Respiratory failure known as ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) that effects the most critically ill COVID-19 patients requires mechanical ventilation and up to 80% of patients on a ventilator will develop ICU delirium. One in 4 ARDS survivors will also develop PTSD. Many COVID patients describe nightmares, depression, and anxiety after their hospitalizations. Delirium is a strong predictor of adverse cognitive, physical, and psychological outcomes for ICU survivors. These problems called PICS (post-intensive care syndrome) that ICU patients can experience post-discharge affects up to 33% of patients on ventilators and 50% of patients who stay in the ICU for at least one week. Dr. Wes Ely, a professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine states that “If you had to design an experiment to make delirium as bad as it could be, COVID is it. COVID is essentially a delirium factory”.

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