New app to help decipher medical mystery

Nurse Researcher from TPCH’s Critical Care Research Group, Paul Jarrett

Delirium is an acute onset cognitive condition that alters a person’s ability to communicate and behave as they normally would. Every year in Australia, around 130,000 people are admitted into a hospital Intensive Care Unit, and up to 80 per cent of these patients face the possibility of developing delirium.

Critical Care Research Group (CCRG) Nurse Researcher Paul Jarrett says the effect of delirium is terrifying for patients and their families. Patients experience
a profound mental change which may cause them to become drowsy or unresponsive, or become aggressive and abusive.

“The patients can remain extremely confused and upset for long periods which makes treating their problems all the more difficult. For clinicians, the exact cause of delirium is still unknown, making it difficult to accurately understand and diagnose,” Paul says.

“The inability to accurately diagnose delirium also has a financial impact, as the number of cases in the ICU is significantly under reported. As hospitals are funded based on reported activity, this means they are missing out on important funding for a condition that’s already impacting patient care and outcomes.”

TPCH’s CCRG team will use the app to aid in the accurate of diagnosis of patients with delirium in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. The iPad app works by asking a few simple yes/no questions from the patient by using pictures and numbers, allowing non-communicative patients to participate in the diagnosis process.

“For the healthcare professional the app removes the dilemma of identifying delirium early and is a lot easier to perform than the traditional paper based techniques. This allows clinicians to treat delirium head on for better outcomes,” Paul says.

“For the patient and their families, the quicker and more accurate diagnosis allows them to recover faster and get home sooner.”

At TPCH, the app is showing incredible promise with the rates of delirium detection similar and better than conventional paper based tools. The researchers believe it has the potential to become a standard diagnostic tool across Australia’s 230 ICUs. The app has also been developed in language free and culturally appropriate forms for different parts of the world.

The development of the App has been supported by The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation.

2017-11-27T05:00:57+00:0027 November 2017|
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