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Haunted by hallucinations: Children in the PICU traumatized by delusions
Date:5/1/2008

g test than others.

These findings are interesting because it has been assumed that the actual experiences in the PICU would be more likely to lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms following discharge, said Ms. Colville. However, our results indicate that post-traumatic stress symptoms are associated with delusional memories rather than factual ones. The hallucinations children reported were overwhelmingly disturbing and frightening, similar to those reported by adult intensive care patients and heroin addicts going through withdrawal.

The findings have important clinical implications, as the timing of the hallucinations appeared to coincide with the period during which they were being weaned off the sedatives commonly prescribed on PICU (benzodiazepines and opiates) and children were five times as likely to report having had delusions or hallucinations if they had been prescribed opiates and benzodiazepines for more than two days.

The authors do not suggest that the drugs be discontinued, but that they do warrant further study. Additional research could establish whether alternative types of sedation or the introduction of drug holidays might produce fewer traumatic delusional memories. The authors also suggest altering the physical environment and providing psychological orientation cues for children in the PICU, such as demarcating day and night, to help reduce these symptoms.

But above all, medical professionals and families should be made aware of the possibility that children may have these disturbing hallucinatory experiences, and greater efforts should be made to monitor their psychological adjustment after PICU, said Ms. Colville.


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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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