Differences in Delirium Evaluation and Pharmacologic Management in Children With Developmental Delay: A Retrospective Case-Control Study

Amanda R. Kolmar, Anneliese M. Paton, Michael A. Kramer, Kristin P. Guilliams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Delirium is associated with increased mortality and cost, decreased neurocognition, and decreased quality of life in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) population. The Cornell Assessment for Pediatric Delirium (CAPD) is used in PICUs for delirium screening but lacks specificity in children with developmental delay (DD). Within a cohort of children receiving pharmacologic treatment for intensive care unit (ICU) delirium, we compared delirium scoring and medication management between children with and without DD. We hypothesized that CAPD scores and treatment decisions would differ between DD and neurotypical (NT) patients. In this retrospective case-control study, we queried the medical record of patients admitted to our PICU with respiratory failure from June 2018 to March 2022 who received antipsychotics typically used for ICU delirium. Antipsychotics prescribed for home use were excluded. Nonparametric statistics compared demographics, CAPD scores, medication choice, dosing (mg/kg), and medication continuation after discharge between those with and without DD based on the ICD-10 codes. Twenty-one DD admissions and 59 NT admissions were included. Groups did not significantly differ by demographics, LOS, drug, or initial dosage. DD patients had higher median CAPD scores at admission (17 vs 13; P =.02) and treatment initiation (18 vs 16.5; P =.05). Providers more frequently escalated doses in DD patients (13/21 vs 21/59; P =.04) and discharged them home on new antipsychotics (7/21 vs 5/59; P =.01). DD patients experience delirium screening and management differently than NT counterparts. Providers should be aware of baseline elevated scores in DD patients and carefully attend to indications for dosage escalation. Further work is needed to understand if prolonged duration, even after hospital discharge, benefits patients, or represents potential disparity in care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-175
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • developmental delay
  • disparities in care
  • pediatric delirium management
  • polypharmacy


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