Agitation is common in geriatric patients with cognitive impairment, e.g. in persons with dementia (PWD), who are admitted to an emergency department (ED). It might be a first sign of upcoming delirium and is associated with a higher risk of an unfavorable clinical course. Hence, monitoring of vital signs and enhanced movement as indicators of upcoming agitation is essential in these patients during their stay in the ED. Since PWD rarely tolerate fixed monitoring devices, a novel developed non-contact monitoring system (NCMSys) might represent an appropriate alternative.
Aim of this feasibility study was to test the validity of a NCMSys and of the tent-like “Charité Dome” (ChD), aimed to shelter PWD from the busy ED environment. Furthermore, effects of the ChD on wellbeing and agitation of PWD were investigated.
Both devices were attached to patient’s bed. Tests on technical validity and safety issues of NCMSys and ChD were performed at the iDoc institute with six healthy volunteers. A feasibility study evaluating the reliability of the NCMSys with and without the ChD was performed in the real-life setting of an ED and on a geriatric-gerontopsychiatric ward. 19 patients were included, ten males and nine females; mean age: 77.4 (55–93) years of which 14 were PWD. PWD inclusion criteria were age ≥ 55 years, a dementia diagnosis and a written consent (by patients or by a custodian). Exclusion criteria were acute life-threatening situations and a missing consent.
Measurements of heart rate, changes in movement and sound emissions by the NCMSys were valid, whereas patient movements affected respiratory rate measurements. The ChD did not impact patients’ vital signs or movements in our study setting. However, 53% of the PWD (7/13) and most of the patients without dementia (4/5) benefited from its use regarding their agitation and overall wellbeing.
The results of this feasibility study encourage a future controlled clinical trial in geriatric ED patients, including PWD, to further evaluate if our concept of non-contact measurement of vital signs and movement combined with the “Charité Dome” helps to prevent upcoming agitation in this vulnerable patient group in the ED.
ICTRP: “Charité-Dome-Study - DRKS00014737” (retrospectively registered).