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  1. Segatore, Milena
  2. Adams, Debra


Abstract: Managing behavioral disorders such as delirium and agitation while simultaneously attending to the acute needs of elderly patients is a challenge that confronts orthopaedic nurses on a daily basis. This will only increase in frequency and complexity as the new century dawns. Delirium and agitation affect morbidity, mortality, length of stay, and costs - in short, outcomes. To manage and care for these patients, orthopaedic nurses must first update their knowledge of acute disorders that can disrupt mental status and behavior, and the effects of systemic events on brain function. With the knowledge of the pathophysiology of delirium and agitation, nurses then need to refine their assessment and intervention skills. This article describes the phenomena of agitation and delirium in the elderly acute orthopaedic patient, outlines current perceptions regarding pathophysiology, and offers guidelines for prevention and intervention. An algorithm has been developed that can assist with the identification of at-risk individuals, causes of delirium, and early assessments in the acute care setting.