(HealthDay News) — Intensive care unit patients who develop delirium have a higher mortality risk, longer hospital stays, and are more likely to have cognitive impairment after hospital discharge, according to a review published online June 3 in The BMJ.

The researchers analyzed 42 studies that included a total of 16,595 intensive care unit patients. The 32% of patients with delirium were twice as likely to die during hospitalization as those without delirium (risk ratio, 2.19; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.78–2.70; P<0.001), the study authors found.

Patients with delirium stayed in the intensive care unit 1.38 days longer (95% CI, 0.99–1.77; P<0.001) and required mechanical ventilation 1.79 days longer than those without delirium (95% CI, 0.31–3.27; P<0.001). In the studies that reported follow-up after hospital discharge, the researchers noted an association between delirium and cognitive impairment after discharge.

The study findings are “a strong signal that all critically ill patients must be screened and monitored for delirium,” study coauthor Robert Stevens, MD, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, said in a news release from the D’Or Institute for Research and Education in Rio de Janeiro. “Now we hope to see comprehensive efforts to decrease the burden of delirium via prevention and therapeutic interventions.”

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