Older Adults Discharged from the Hospital with Delirium: 1-Year Outcomes

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To compare 1-year institutionalization and mortality rates of patients who were delirious at discharge, patients whose delirium resolved by discharge, and patients who were never delirious in the hospital.

DESIGN

Secondary analysis of prospective cohort data from the Delirium Prevention Trial.

SETTING

General medicine service at Yale New Haven Hospital, March 25, 1995, through March 18, 1998, with follow-up interviews completed in 2000.

PARTICIPANTS

Four hundred thirty-three patients aged 70 and older who were not delirious at admission.

MEASUREMENTS

Patients underwent daily assessments of delirium from admission to discharge using the Confusion Assessment Method. Nursing home placement and mortality were determined at 1-year follow up.

RESULTS

Of the 433 study patients, 24 (5.5%) had delirium at discharge, 31 (7.2%) had delirium that resolved during hospitalization, and 378 (87.3%) were never delirious. After 1 year of follow-up, 20 of 24 (83.3%) patients discharged with delirium, 21 of 31 (67.7%) patients whose delirium resolved, and 157 of 378 (41.5%) patients who were never delirious were admitted to a nursing home or died. Compared with patients who were never delirious, patients with delirium at discharge had a multivariable adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 2.64 (95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.60–4.35) for nursing home placement or mortality, whereas resolved cases had a HR of 1.53 (95% CI = 0.96–2.43).

CONCLUSION

Delirium at discharge is associated with a high rate of nursing home placement and mortality over a 1-year follow-up period. Interventions to increase detection of delirium and improvements in transitional care may help reduce these negative outcomes.

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