A comparison of the CAM-ICU and the NEECHAM Confusion Scale in intensive care delirium assessment: an observational study in non-intubated patients

Bart Van Rompaey, Marieke J Schuurmans, Lillie M Shortridge-Baggett, Steven Truijen, Monique Elseviers, Leo Bossaert
Critical Care: the Official Journal of the Critical Care Forum 2008, 12 (1): R16

BACKGROUND: Several reports indicate a high incidence of intensive care delirium. To develop strategies to prevent this complication, validated instruments are needed. The Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) is widely used. A binary result diagnoses delirium. The Neelon and Champagne (NEECHAM) Confusion Scale recently has been validated for use in the ICU and has a numeric assessment. This scale allows the patients to be classified in four categories: non-delirious, at risk, confused, and delirious. In this study, we investigated the results of the NEECHAM scale in comparison with the CAM-ICU.

METHODS: A consecutive sample of 172 non-intubated patients in a mixed ICU was assessed after a stay in the ICU for at least 24 hours. All adult patients with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of greater than 9 were included. A nurse researcher simultaneously assessed both scales once daily in the morning. A total of 599 paired observations were made.

RESULTS: The CAM-ICU showed a 19.8% incidence of delirium. The NEECHAM scale detected incidence rates of 20.3% for delirious, 24.4% for confused, 29.7% for at risk, and 25.6% for normal patients. The majority of the positive CAM-ICU patients were detected by the NEECHAM scale. The sensitivity of the NEECHAM scale was 87% and the specificity was 95%. The positive predictive value and the negative predictive value were 79% and 97%, respectively. The diagnostic capability in cardiac surgery patients proved to be lower than in other patients.

CONCLUSION: In non-intubated patients, the NEECHAM scale identified most cases of delirium which were detected by the CAM-ICU. Additional confused patients were identified in the categorical approach of the scale. The NEECHAM scale proved to be a valuable screening tool compared with the CAM-ICU in the early detection of intensive care delirium by nurses.

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