World Delirium Awareness Day

13/Mar/2019     Health

Today is World Delirium Awareness Day and the Medical/Chronic stream are working hard to inspire positive action and awareness.

Delirium is an acute change in mental status that is common among older people in hospital. It is a serious condition that requires urgent medical attention.

Mater Geriatrician Dr Emily Ahern said delirium is often under recognised.

“Often people think of delirium as quite extreme behaviour however it can be present in a patient who is sitting quietly in the unfamiliar hospital environment, they haven’t eaten or had anything to drink, which then affects their cognitive ability,” Dr Ahern said.

“By getting to know our patients better and speaking to relatives we would be able to recognise changes in behaviour more quickly,” she said.

Mater is implementing the Delirium Clinical Care standards, to improve early diagnosis and treatment of people with delirium so as to reduce the severity and duration of delirium.

The priorities of best practice care are:

•          early screening

•          assessing for delirium

•          interventions to prevent delirium

•          identifying and treating underlying causes

•          preventing falls and injuries

•          minimising the use of antipsychotic medicines

•          transitioning from hospital care.

A trial of a multi-component delirium prevention management program (called the Active Patient Program) is currently underway at Mater which draws on similar programs which have been shown to reduce delirium, reduce functional decline, reduce inpatient mortality and reduce length of stay. The program focuses on early mobility and functional rehabilitation, good nutrition and hydration and regular reorientation and engagement.

Photo: Dr Emily Ahern and René Huysamen

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