March 11 is recognized as World Delirium Awareness Day. Delirium is a rapid change in brain function, which primarily affects an older person’s ability to focus attention, and is a common, serious, and even deadly complication of hospital admission for many older people. Delirium can lead to long-term functional, cognitive, and social impairments. While there are no medications approved for the treatment of delirium, clinicians can treat delirium by identifying and treating the underlying causes.
In Mount Sinai Hospital’s Emergency Department, a small team of Geriatric Emergency Management (GEM) nurses supports older patients to maintain their functional abilities while in the ED and when discharged home, and they are active in both identifying and preventing delirium.
One tool that GEM nurses use – and that all nurses have access to – is the CAM (Confusion Assessment Method). This tool can show the first indications of delirium. This tool can be accessed on the ED Nursing documentation and in Powerchart. It provides clinicians with a quick way to assess patients for delirium and direct their care.
In recognition of Delirium Awareness Day, GEM nurses and other members of the ED team will be wearing special delirium awareness t-shirts.
For more information on delirium, read this educational pamphlet available for patients and families. https://sinaigeriatrics.ca/patient-resources/how-to-recognize-and-manage-delirium/
There are also excellent resources available for clinicians related to delirium through the following link, created in Sinai’s ED: https://geri-em.com/cognitive-impairment/preventing-delirium/