A pioneering work by Gillian Colville, a clinical psychologist at St. George's Hospital in London, to evaluate the extent of kids' memories of times spent in the pediatric ICU has revealed some startling insights.
The research showed that close to one third of kids staying in the pediatric intensive care unit suffer delusions and hallucinations with a strong likelihood of post traumatic stress disorder. This was pronounced in kids admitted as emergencies and administered powerful sedatives for over two days.
According to Gillian Colville, some children suffered hallucinations where they reportedly saw rats, cats and scorpions climb walls or creep close to their bed. Suffering symptoms of post traumatic stress, kids seemed to see imposters in place of their parents.
During the study, Colville's team assessed 102 children aged seven, who had been home for 3 months after discharge from pediatric intensive care units. They were asked questions about how much they remember of their stay at the ICU. They also had to take a screening test for post-traumatic stress.
The kids could not remember facts which they recalled in fragments. Yet, one out of three children recalled delusions and hallucinations and their answers for the questions indicated a strong likelihood of post traumatic stress disorder.
Colville said these findings run a parallel to adult studies, where many adults report hallucinations, suffer post traumatic stress after visiting the ICU.
The researchers hoped this study would prompt further research into exploring better types of care for children in ICU which would employ safer sedatives, possibly ones that could protect children against nightmarish experiences and stressful events.