Mismanagement of delerium places patients at risk

Chantal Ski, Bev O'Connell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: This paper discusses the problem of delirium and the challenges of accurately assessing, preventing and managing patients with delirium in an acute care setting.

PRIMARY ARGUMENT: Acute confusion, also known as delirium, is misdiagnosed and under-treated in up to 94% of older patients in hospitals. With the ageing population, this problem will increase dramatically in the Australian setting. Managing patients with delirium is challenging not only for the management of their basic nursing care needs but also because they are prone to adverse events such as falls and medication problems. In order to address this issue it is vital that health care professionals routinely assess patients for signs of delirium. The current 'gold standard' for assessing delirium is the use of the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) which has been developed based on the diagnostic criteria set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV and can be used by non-psychiatrists. Further, increased attention should be given to the prevention and management of delirium and the use of orientation and validation therapy.

CONCLUSION: Research indicates that early identification and intervention can help to limit any negative effects or adverse events. Increasing knowledge and awareness of early detection and efficient management of delirium is the first step toward prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-6
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Delirium
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Risk Management
  • Socioenvironmental Therapy
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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