/Patients get absolutely freaked out: World-first cocoon hospital bed aims to relieve ICU delirium

Patients get absolutely freaked out: World-first cocoon hospital bed aims to relieve ICU delirium

Updated

May 08, 2019 16:36:47

A new intensive care cocoon developed by a Brisbane hospital aims to reduce “absolutely petrifying” delirium that occurs in up to 80 per cent of patients being treated in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU).

Key points:

  • ICU delirium is caused by multiple factors, but is exacerbated by the noise, light, and sleep deprivation experienced in an ICU
  • Former ICU patients say their lengthy stays in hospital left them with psychological scars long after they healed physically
  • The aim of the ICU cocoon is to provide a calmer and more secluded stay in hospital, using noise-cancelling technology and video screens

ICU delirium is a serious condition that results in an acute change in the mental state of critically ill patients, with disturbances to their consciousness, attention, cognition and perception, with symptoms including a patient suffering terrifying hallucinations or having delusions that staff are trying to harm them.

The condition is caused by multiple factors, but exacerbated by the noise, light, and sleep deprivation experienced in an ICU.

As critical care medicine improves each year, there are more survivors presenting with debilitating psychological and physical impairments after experiencing ICU delirium.

Those affected risk suffering extended stays and misdiagnosis because of their condition, costing up to $200 million each year.

ICU cocoon aims to lower delirium rates

Former ICU patients said their lengthy stays in hospital had left them with psychological scars, long after they had healed physically.

But a team from the Prince Charles Hospital Foundation (PCHF) in Brisbane has designed a world-first type of hospital bed called an ICU cocoon that aims to reduce the rates of delirium.

Col Manderson and Bec Craven, both heart transplant recipients, were among a group of 25 patients who had input into the design of the ICU cocoon.

The PCHF plans to build two prototypes of the beds in the next 12 to 18 months, and is seeking $1 million in donations to fund the project.

Professor John Fraser, who led the PCHF team, said the aim of the ICU cocoon was to provide a calmer and more secluded stay in hospital, using noise-cancelling technology and video screens.

Professor Fraser said up to 80 per cent of ICU patients experienced delirium.

“Delirium is an acute, reversible condition where patients get absolutely freaked out,” Professor Fraser said.

“They can see hallucinations, they think the nurse is trying to kill them, they think they’re being fed blue blood, or someone’s trying to break into their house, and it’s absolutely petrifying.

“Long term they have worse post-traumatic stress, they’ve got worse mortality, they stay in hospital longer, and it’s an incredibly unpleasant experience.”

‘I was afraid to close my eyes’

Former bricklayer Col Manderson, 62, suffered from terrifying delusions following a heart transplant, due to having ICU delirium.

“I was afraid to close my eyes,” Mr Manderson said.

“The worst night was when I was sitting on type of a flying train going through the sky, talking to the birds — it sounds weird now, but it was very, very real.”

‘Emotional scars that haunt me’

Gold Coast model Bec Craven, 29, received a new heart in 2016, with her longest stint in ICU almost eight weeks.

“I have emotional scars that haunt me every day and most of them are from my time in ICU,” Ms Craven said.

Ms Craven said she would likely need another transplant in the future.

“If I do need another one, I’d rather be in a better ICU than there is now,” Ms Craven said.

Delirium ‘petrifying’ for loved ones to see

Professor Fraser said the delusions were difficult for families to witness.

“It’s just as petrifying for the relative, when they see their mum or their dad or their husband or their wife saying that ‘the nurse is trying to kill me’, they’re grabbing lines, they’re at risk of injuring themselves,” he said.

“If we can drop this [80 per cent] figure by 20 per cent we will reduce the health care cost dramatically and increase survival in 20 per cent of patients, then that’s got to be a good thing.”

Topics:

health,

healthcare-facilities,

medical-procedures,

human-interest,

people,

brisbane-4000,

qld,

australia

First posted

May 08, 2019 15:54:39