Innovative ICU Solutions to Prevent and Reduce Delirium and Post–Intensive Care Unit Syndrome

Alawi Luetz, MD, PhD; Julius J. Grunow; Rudolf Mörgeli, MD; Max Rosenthal, MD, PhD; Steffen Weber-Carstens, MD, PhD; Bjoern Weiss; Claudia Spies, MD, PhD


Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2019;40(5):673-686. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Delirium, the most common form of acute brain dysfunction affecting up to 80% of intensive care unit (ICU) patients, has been shown to predict long-term cognitive impairment, one of the domains in "Post-ICU Syndrome" (PICS). The ICU environment affects several potentially modifiable risk factors for delirium, such as disorientation and disruption, of the sleep–wake cycle. Innovative solutions aim to transform standard concepts of ICU room design to limit potential stressors, and utilizing the patient care space as a treatment tool, exerting positive, therapeutic effects. The main areas affected by most architectural and interior design modifications are sound environment, light control, floor planning, and room arrangement. Implementation of corresponding solutions is challenging considering the significant medical and technical demands of ICUs. This article discusses innovative concepts and promising approaches in ICU design that may be used to prevent stress and to support the healing process of patients, potentially limiting the impact of delirium and PICS.