For citation purposes: Tay TR, Koh J, Tee A. ICU Delirium: Is prevention better than cure? OA Critical Care 2014 Feb 22;2(1):3.

Critical review

Anaesthesiology, Perioperative & Critical Care Medicine

ICU Delirium: Is prevention better than cure?

TR Tay, J Koh, A Tee

Authors affiliations

(1) Changi General Hospital, Singapore

* Corresponding author Email:



Delirium is a form of acute brain dysfunction that commonly develops in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting. Multiple risk factors have been identified but it is often underdiagnosed without the use of standardised assessment tools. Preventing ICU delirium is crucial as it is associated with significant mortality and morbidity. Pharmacological as well as non-pharmacological strategies have shown promise in reducing the risk of ICU delirium whereas there is comparatively less evidence to guide physicians on the management of critically ill patients with established delirium. This review aims to discuss both preventive and treatment strategies for managing ICU delirium and provides a summary on the current evidence.


The emphasis on ICU delirium management should be on prevention and a multi-component strategy encompassing sound sedation practices, early mobilisation and pharmacological therapy in high-risk groups have been shown to be beneficial.

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