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by Dr Santosh B.
Bangar and Dr John
Last updated: May 2017
Delirium is one of the oldest disorders
known to medicine. It is an extremely common condition,
particularly in general hospitals, occurring in up to 50% of older
hospital inpatients, many of whom have pre-existing
Delirium is independently associated with increased length of
hospital stay, morbidity and mortality. Despite its clinical
implications delirium is often not detected or is misdiagnosed as
dementia or other mental health conditions such as depression.
Delirium as an entity has been victim to its unique position at the
mind-body interface and occurrence across multiple disciplines,
meaning that no one specialty recognises delirium as its primary
responsibility. However, the outcome of delirium can be
significantly improved by early identification of risk factors, a
systematic approach to management and education of nursing
staff and professional carers.
Delirium can affect all ages but is most common and
potentially most serious in old age. In this module we will
specifically focus on delirium in older people, covering its
prevalence, clinical features, risk factors and effective
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notes to print and annotate
O’Connell H, Kennelly SP, Cullen W, et al (2014) Managing
delirium in everyday practice: towards cognitive-friendly
hospitals. BJPsych Advances, 20:
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