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Prevention, Recognition, and Management of Delirium in the Intensive Care Unit

Author(s): John Allen, PharmD and Earnest Alexander, PharmD

Contact Hours: 1.00

CERP A: 1.00

Pharmacology Hours: 0.50

Expires Mar 01, 2017

Topics: Pharmacology, BehavioralPsychosocial

Population: Adult

Role: APRN, Staff

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

Added to Collection

Activity Summary

The intentsive care unit (ICU) can be a stressful and intimidating environment for critically ill patients. Behavioral disturbances in critically ill patients may be detrimental to the safety of patients and the nurses caring for these patients. These disturbances may manifest as ICU delirium. The development of ICU delirium can lead to dire consequences, such as an increased risk of 6-month mortality, extended ICU and hospital lengths of stay, and long-term cognitive impairment. Critical care nurses caring for delirious patients are often the first to notice any changes in mental status or behavior; therefore, it is important for critical care nurses to have an understanding of ICU delirium. This review focuses on the prevention and recognition of delirium and provides an overview of both non-pharmacological and pharmacological methods of managing ICU delirium.


  • Describe the symptoms, possible causes, and potential clinical consequences of ICU delirium.
  • Identify risk factors for development of ICU delirium and the common barriers to its early recognition.
  • Discuss the nursing implications associated with nonpharmacological and pharmacological methods of prevention and management of ICU delirium.

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

Successful Completion

Learners must attend/view/read the entire activity and complete the associated evaluation to be awarded the contact hours or CERP. No partial credit will be awarded.


This activity has been reviewed by the Nurse Planner. It has been determined that the material presented here shows no bias. Approval of a continuing education activity does not imply endorsement by AACN or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with the activity.


The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC's) Commission on Accreditation. ANCC Provider Number 0012 (60 min contact hour). AACN has been approved as a provider of continuing education in nursing by the California State Board of Nursing California Provider number CEP01036 contact hours (50 min contact hour).

AACN programming meets the standards for most states that require mandatory continuing education contact hours for license and/or certification renewal. AACN recommends consulting with your state board of nursing or credentialing organization before submitting CE to fulfill continuing education requirements.