ACTION STAT: Acute delirium

August 2005 
Volume 35  Number 8
Pages 88 - 88
  PDF Version Available!

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Professor, School of Nursing, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Fla.

YOU'RE CARING FOR Ann Falk, 76, when she swats your hand away as you check her I.V. site. She seems frightened and calls for her mother. You assess her orientation; she tells you her name, but insists it's 1966 and she's in prison.

Figure. No caption available. What's the situation?

Ms. Falk had surgery yesterday for a fractured right hip. On admission to your orthopedic unit, she was pleasant and cooperative. But as the hours passed, she became increasingly agitated and combative.

What's your assessment?

Ms. Falk seems to be experiencing delirium, a usually reversible condition of acute confusion. Up to 50% of postsurgical patients and up to 60% of hospitalized older patients develop acute delirium. Although delirium is most common in older adults, it can occur at any age. Patients with delirium are at increased risk for functional decline, pneumonia, infection, ...

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