Delirium is a disturbance of attention or awareness accompanied by a change in baseline cognition not caused by a pre-existing or evolving neurocognitive disorder.
A patient with delirium has a reduced ability to direct, focus, sustain, and shift attention.
Approximately 40% of people in hospital will develop delirium.
Most at risk are older people - especially those with dementia; and those who are acutely unwell and receiving intensive medical treatment.
People who develop delirium will:
- Need to stay longer in hospital
- Have more hospital acquired complications such as falls, infections and pressure injuries
- Be at risk of not returning to their pre-delirium level of function
- Be more likely to be admitted to long term care
- Be more likely to die
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