OBJECTIVE: To determine the costs associated with delirium in critically ill children.
DESIGN: Prospective observational study.
SETTING: An urban, academic, tertiary-care PICU in New York city.
PATIENTS: Four-hundred and sixty-four consecutive PICU admissions between September 2, 2014, and December 12, 2014.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: All children were assessed for delirium daily throughout their PICU stay. Hospital costs were analyzed using cost-to-charge ratios, in 2014 dollars. Median total PICU costs were higher in patients with delirium than in patients who were never delirious ($18,832 vs $4,803; p < 0.0001). Costs increased incrementally with number of days spent delirious (median cost of $9,173 for 1 d with delirium, $19,682 for 2-3 d with delirium, and $75,833 for > 3 d with delirium; p < 0.0001); this remained highly significant even after adjusting for PICU length of stay (p < 0.0001). After controlling for age, gender, severity of illness, and PICU length of stay, delirium was associated with an 85% increase in PICU costs (p < 0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric delirium is associated with a major increase in PICU costs. Further research directed at prevention and treatment of pediatric delirium is essential to improve outcomes in this population and could lead to substantial healthcare savings.