The intensive care unit environment can be extremely stressful, even if they provide some of the best care in the world. It is believed that a patient in the ICU has their sleep interrupted approximately every three minutes either through noise, lights, or medical intervention. Up to 80% of patients in the ICU suffer from some form of delirium, and nearly 30% develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
In order to improve the treatment of patients in the ICU and to lower the rates of delirium, Brisbane's Prince Charles Hospital Foundation has designed the world's first hospital bed that is being called the “Intensive Care Cocoon.” The cocoon features noise-cancelling technology that removes the incessant beeping of monitoring equipment from the patient's head. It also stimulates day and night, and allows patients to view a live video of their home so that they can talk to their family members and their pets.
As Prof. John Fraser, the director of the Critical Care Research Group at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane points out, a stay in the ICU can seem like the worst jet-lag ever, and while patients with critical conditions are treated in the ICU, there are environmental factors that often worsen mortality, increase time in hospital and overall frighten people. He highlights the fact that the risk of mortality at six months increases by 300% in patients with delirium.
Patients have been known to suffer from anxiety during their ICU stay and from PTSD after. For some, the ICU can be the scariest place they've ever seen. It is thus evident that there is a need to address this issue and to focus on improving the patient experience in the ICU.
The Prince Charles Hospital Foundation plans to build two prototypes of the beds if it is able to raise $1 million in donation. These beds might be expensive to build, but if rolled out across hospitals, it is believed that they can make intensive care cheaper in the long run and can reduce the length of time patients stay in the ICU.