Nursing home programs to alleviate patient delirium are not effective, study finds

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Delirium abatement programs do not reduce delirium in recently admitted nursing home patients, according to new research.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, performed a randomized trial of delirium abatement programs at eight Massachusetts nursing homes. More than 450 patients participated. Delirium abatement programs consist of four steps: assessment for delirium within five days of admission, assessment and correction of common reversible causes of delirium, prevention of complications of delirium, and restoration of function, according to the report.

Facilities with such programs were significantly more effective at identifying new admissions with delirium (41% of new patients were identified as having delirium, compared with 12% at facilities without the abatement program). But at two- and four-week follow-up intervals, facilities with abatement programs were no more effective at alleviating delirium than regular care facilities. The report appears in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.