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Delirium (acute confusional state) is a common condition in older people, affecting up to 30 per cent of all older patients admitted to hospital. Delirium is often not recognized by clinicians. However, early recognition allows more effective non-pharmacological intervention. Delirium may be prevented in up to one-third of older patients (Safer Healthcare Now! 2013), making its detection an important benchmark for a quality initiative.

Furthermore, Delirium is an under-recognized, but surprisingly common problem in hospitalized ICU patients. Up to 80 per cent of critically ill patients from various ICU populations can be identified as having Delirium or sub-syndromal Delirium according to validated screening criteria (Ouimet, Kavanagh, et al., 2007; Ouimet, Riker, et al., 2007).

The most important step in Delirium management is early prevention.


Patients who develop Delirium have high mortality, institutionalization and complication rates, and have longer lengths of stay than non-delirious patients (Safer Healthcare Now! 2013). Delirium is also believed to be associated with increased ventilator days, and self-removal of important devices (endotracheal tubes, central venous catheters) (Safer Healthcare Now! 2013).


To improve the early detection and reduce the incidence of Delirium in at risk hospitalized patients in intensive and general care units through implementation of standardized Delirium screening and prevention strategies.

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