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From case reports, haloperidol administration has been associated with QTc prolongation, torsades de pointes, and sudden cardiac death. In a vulnerable population of critically ill patients after cardiac surgery, however, it is unclear whether haloperidol administration affects the QTc interval. Thus, the aim of this study is to explore the effect of haloperidol in low doses on this interval.
This retrospective cohort study was performed on a cardio-surgical intensive care unit (ICU), screened 2,216 patients and eventually included 68 patients with delirium managed with oral and intravenous haloperidol. In this retrospective analysis, electrocardiograms were taken prior and within 24 h after haloperidol administration. The effect of haloperidol on QTc was determined with a Person correlation, and inter-group differences were measured with new long QT comparisons.
In total, 68 patients were included, the median age was 71 (64–79) years and predominantly male (77%). Haloperidol administration followed ICU admission by three days and the cumulative dose was 4 (2–9) mg. As a result, haloperidol administration did not affect the QTc (r = 0.144, p = 0.23). In total, 31% (21/68 patients) had a long QT before and 27.9% (19/68 patients) after haloperidol administration. Only 12% (8/68 patients) developed a newly onset long QT. These patients were not different in the route of administration, cumulative haloperidol doses, comorbidities, laboratory findings, or medications.
Significance of results
These results indicated that low-dose intravenous haloperidol was safe and not clinically relevant for the development of a newly onset long QT syndrome or adverse outcomes and support recent findings inside and outside the ICU setting.
In the intensive care setting, delirium is a common occurrence; however, the impact of the level of alertness has never been evaluated. Therefore, this study aimed to assess the delirium characteristics in the drowsy, as well as the alert and calm patient.
In this prospective cohort study, 225 intensive care patients with Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale (RASS) scores of −1 — drowsy and 0 — alert and calm were evaluated with the Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-1998 (DRS-R-98) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 4th edition text revision (DSM-IV-TR)-determined diagnosis of delirium.
In total, 85 drowsy and 140 alert and calm patients were included. Crucial items for the correct identification of delirium were sleep–wake cycle disturbances, language abnormalities, thought process alterations, psychomotor retardation, disorientation, inattention, short- and long-term memory, as well as visuo-spatial impairment, and the temporal onset. Conversely, perceptual disturbances, delusions, affective lability, psychomotor agitation, or fluctuations were items, which identified delirium less correctly. Further, the severities of inattentiveness and visuo-spatial impairment were indicative of delirium in both alert- or calmness and drowsiness.
Significance of results
The impairment in the cognitive domain, psychomotor retardation, and sleep–wake cycle disturbances correctly identified delirium irrespective of the level alertness. Further, inattentiveness and — to a lesser degree — visuo-spatial impairment could represent a specific marker for delirium in the intensive care setting meriting further evaluation.
The importance of the proper identification of delirium, with its high incidence and adversities in the intensive care setting, has been widely recognized. One common screening instrument is the Intensive Care Delirium Screening Checklist (ICDSC); however, the symptom profile and key features of delirium dependent on the level of sedation have not yet been evaluated.
In this prospective cohort study, the ICDSC was evaluated versus the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition, text revision, diagnosis of delirium set as standard with respect to the symptom profile, and correct identification of delirium. The aim of this study was to identify key features of delirium in the intensive care setting dependent on the Richmond Agitation and Sedation Scale levels of sedation: drowsiness versus alert and calmness.
The 88 delirious patients of 225 were older, had more severe disease, and prolonged hospitalization. Irrespective of the level of sedation, delirium was correctly classified by items related to inattention, disorientation, psychomotor alterations, inappropriate speech or mood, and symptom fluctuation. In the drowsy patients, inattention reached substantial sensitivity and specificity, whereas psychomotor alterations and sleep-wake cycle disturbances were sensitive lacked specificity. The positive prediction was substantial across items, whereas the negative prediction was only moderate. In the alert and calm patient, the sensitivities were substantial for psychomotor alterations, sleep-wake cycle disturbances, and symptom fluctuations; however, these fluctuations were not specific. The positive prediction was moderate and the negative prediction substantial. Between the nondelirious drowsy and alert, the symptom profile was similar; however, drowsiness was associated with alterations in consciousness.
Significance of results
In the clinical routine, irrespective of the level of sedation, delirium was characterized by the ICDSC items for inattention, disorientation, psychomotor alterations, inappropriate speech or mood and symptom fluctuation. Further, drowsiness caused altered levels of consciousness.
In the intensive care setting, delirium is a common occurrence that comes with subsequent adversities. Therefore, several instruments have been developed to screen for and detect delirium. Their validity and psychometric properties, however, remain controversial.
In this prospective cohort study, the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM–ICU) and the Intensive Care Delirium Screening Checklist (ICDSC) were evaluated versus the DSM–IV–TR in the diagnosis of delirium with respect to their validity and psychometric properties.
Out of some 289 patients, 210 with matching CAM–ICU, ICDSC, and DSM–IV–TR diagnoses were included. Between the scales, the prevalence of delirium ranged from 23.3% with the CAM–ICU, to 30.5% with the ICDSC, to 43.8% with the DSM–IV–TR criteria. The CAM–ICU showed only moderate concurrent validity (Cohen's κ = 0.44) and sensitivity (50%), but high specificity (95%). The ICDSC also reached moderate agreement (Cohen's κ = 0.60) and sensitivity (63%) while being very specific (95%). Between the CAM–ICU and the ICDSC, the concurrent validity was again only moderate (Cohen's κ = 0.56); however, the ICDSC yielded higher sensitivity and specificity (78 and 83%, respectively).
Significance of Results:
In the daily clinical routine, neither the CAM–ICU nor the ICDSC, common tools used in screening and detecting delirium in the intensive care setting, reached sufficient concurrent validity; nor did they outperform the DSM–IV–TR diagnostic criteria with respect to sensitivity or positive prediction, but they were very specific. Thus, the non-prediction by the CAM–ICU or ICDSC did not refute the presence of delirium. Between the CAM–ICU and ICDSC, the ICDSC proved to be the more accurate instrument.
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