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Am J Crit Care. 2014 Jan;23(1):60-9. doi: 10.4037/ajcc2014567.

Decreasing inappropriate unable-to-assess ratings for the confusion assessment method for the intensive care unit.

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Joshua T. Swan is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Texas Southern University, a clinical pharmacist specialist at Houston Methodist Hospital, and a clinical research scholar in the Center for Outcomes Research in the Department of Surgery at Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, Texas.



The Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit (CAM-ICU) is a validated tool for diagnosing delirium in the ICU and yields 1 of 3 ratings: positive, negative, and unable to assess (UTA). It was hypothesized that an educational campaign focused on establishing patients' arousal as comatose versus noncomatose before initiating the CAM-ICU would decrease the incidence of inappropriate UTA ratings.


To compare the incidence of inappropriate UTA ratings before and after an educational campaign.


An interventional, quasi-experimental study was conducted in a surgical ICU at a tertiary academic medical center. A nursing educational campaign was conducted from March 1 to March 7, 2012. Patients admitted to the surgical ICU from December 25, 2011 through January 25, 2012 were included in the baseline cohort, and patients admitted from March 9 through April 9, 2012 were included in the posteducation cohort. Inclusion criteria were admission to the surgical ICU for at least 24 hours and at least 1 CAM-ICU assessment.


The baseline cohort included 93 patients and the posteducation cohort included 96 patients. Patients were 41% less likely to receive an inappropriate UTA rating after the educational campaign (32% [30 of 93] baseline vs 19% [18 of 96], P = .03). Patients with concurrent mechanical ventilation were more likely to receive an inappropriate UTA rating in the baseline cohort (odds ratio, 30.7; 95% CI, 8.9-105.9; P < .001) and the posteducation cohort (odds ratio, 15.5; 95% CI, 4.1-59.5; P < .001).


The educational campaign decreased the incidence of inappropriate UTA ratings.

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