Hospitals need to improve delirium detection, research shows

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Hospital emergency departments need to improve their delirium detection, according to researchers from the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.

Older adults who are discharged from the hospital with undetected delirium are more likely to die within six months rather than those who had their delirium detected, researchers said.

The largest challenge to delirium detection and treatment is how emergency room clinicians prioritize their care, said study leader Michael LaMantia, M.D., MPH. Staff members also are more likely to recognize delirium when patients are agitated over those who are more withdrawn.

Physicians are discussing the need for a delirium screening test, that is “physician proof,” simple, and fast, researchers said.

"The efforts of emergency providers, geriatricians, brain scientists, and implementation experts will be needed to further develop and test these responses to this challenging clinical condition," said LaMantia.