Wes Ely at University of Iowa Today

Wes Ely, MD will be giving the Internal Medicine Grand Rounds today at noon at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. The title of his presentation is “A New Frontier in Critical Care: Saving the Injured Brain.”

I’m on duty today in the general hospital as a psychiatric consultant. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to attend Dr. Ely’s talk, ironically because I’ll be helping colleagues care for delirious patients.

But I found a YouTube video of the talk he gave with the same title. He delivered it in 2017 at a Critical Care Summit meeting at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

I gave a talk to the medical students yesterday about delirium and dementia, which you can view in yesterday’s post. I urged them to try to attend Dr. Ely’s talk today because it would be a stellar, eye-opening, inspirational presentation. I talked about many of the same topics relevant to delirium that he does–but he’s a rock star. He’s a scientist and a humanist. I met him briefly at a meeting of the American Delirium Society several years ago and he’s brilliant.

I was listening to his talk via this YouTube video as I quickly tapped out this post. He’s an intensivist and focuses on delirium in critical care. While the focus of his talk is called “ICU delirium,” I think it’s important to realize that delirium is delirium–anywhere in the hospital or in nursing homes, skilled care facilities, and hospital emergency rooms.

The first-person video that Dr. Ely shows of a patient who developed what is essentially a dementia from prolonged delirium in the ICU is compelling. It’s a stunning revelation from someone who has not recovered from the neurocognitive injury that we call delirium. Some patients have even committed suicide because of the long-term brain injury resulting from delirium.

Dr. Ely makes the point that changing the culture of hospital medicine regarding the approach to assessing and managing delirium is a baby step process. It takes time.

Change happens, especially if we approach it as a team.

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