Natural language processing diagnosed behavioral disturbance vs confusion assessment method for the intensive care unit: prevalence, patient characteristics, overlap, and association with treatment and outcome

Marcus Young, Natasha Holmes, Kartik Kishore, Nada Marhoon, Sobia Amjad, Ary Serpa-Neto, Rinaldo Bellomo

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To compare the prevalence, characteristics, drug treatment for delirium, and outcomes of patients with Natural Language Processing (NLP) diagnosed behavioral disturbance (NLP-Dx-BD) vs Confusion Assessment Method for intensive care unit (CAM-ICU) positivity. Methods: In three combined medical-surgical ICUs, we obtained data on demographics, treatment with antipsychotic medications, and outcomes. We applied NLP to caregiver progress notes to diagnose behavioral disturbance and analyzed simultaneous CAM-ICU. Results: We assessed 2313 patients with a median lowest Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS) score of − 2 (− 4.0 to − 1.0) and median highest RASS score of 1 (0 to 1). Overall, 1246 (53.9%) patients were NLP-Dx-BD positive (NLP-Dx-BDpos) and 578 (25%) were CAM-ICU positive (CAM-ICUpos). Among NLP-Dx-BDpos patients, 539 (43.3%) were also CAM-ICUpos. In contrast, among CAM-ICUpos patients, 539 (93.3%) were also NLP-Dx-BDpos. The use of antipsychotic medications was highest in patients in the CAM-ICUpos and NLP-Dx-BDpos group (24.3%) followed by the CAM-ICUneg and NLP-Dx-BDpos group (10.5%). In NLP-Dx-BDneg patients, antipsychotic medication use was lower at 5.1% for CAM-ICUpos and NLP-Dx-BDneg patients and 2.3% for CAM-ICUneg and NLP-Dx-BDneg patients (overall P < 0.001). Regardless of CAM-ICU status, after adjustment and on time-dependent Cox modelling, NLP-Dx-BD was associated with greater antipsychotic medication use. Finally, regardless of CAM-ICU status, NLP-Dx-BDpos patients had longer duration of ICU and hospital stay and greater hospital mortality (all P < 0.001). Conclusion: More patients were NLP-Dx-BD positive than CAM-ICU positive. NLP-Dx-BD and CAM-ICU assessment describe partly overlapping populations. However, NLP-Dx-BD identifies more patients likely to receive antipsychotic medications. In the absence of NLP-Dx-BD, treatment with antipsychotic medications is rare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559–569
Number of pages11
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Critical illness
  • Delirium
  • Intensive care
  • Olanzapine
  • Quetiapine

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