Is delirium being detected in emergency?

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Abstract

Objective:

To report on the use of Delirium Care Pathways to screen for and recognise delirium by Aged Care Services in Emergency Teams (ASETs) at five metropolitan hospitals in New South Wales, Australia. Knowledge of delirium and the use of Delirium Care Pathways are vital to ensure that older people presenting with delirium receive best practice care.

Methods:

An audit of 205 randomly selected medical records of clients over 65 years presenting to an ASET was conducted.

Results:

Delirium was recorded in the medical records notes of four clients (2%). However, the auditors identified another 27 clients with symptoms of delirium.

Conclusions:

Delirium is still frequently undiagnosed and misdiagnosed in older people presenting to emergency departments. This indicates a need for further education and professional development for and by health-care practitioners. Only with greater awareness of delirium will the care and health outcomes of older adults presenting with delirium in acute care settings improve.

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