Delirium and Nursing Care

Afza.Malik GDA

Nursing Care for Delirium

Delirium and Nursing Care

Delirium APA,Historical View About Delirium ,Delirium as Under diagnose or Misdiagnosed,Recognition of Delirium,Instrument for Delirium Diagnoses ,Strategies To Treat Delirium,Prevention And Treatment of Delirium.

Delirium APA 

    Delirium is an acute, fluctuating disturbance of consciousness and cognition (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). It frequently accompanies acute physical illness and is found in all care settings. 

    Estimates of the incidence of delirium range from 7% to 80% for all hospitalized patients; 46% for older patients receiving home health care services; and 14% to 39% for residents in long-term care settings. 

    More recently, in a community-based sample, delirium was found to be superimposed on dementia in 13% of the cases.

Historical View About Delirium 

    Previously, delirium was thought to be self-limiting and benign. Recent discoveries indicate that delirium is associated with cognitive and functional impairments persisting for 12 months or more after the index incident of delirium. 

    Moreover, delirium portends poorer outcomes, greater costs of care, and greater chances for dementia and death. Despite these profound negative consequences for patients, families, health care providers, and society, delirium remains understudied. The current state of knowledge of delirium is summarized here.

Delirium as Under-Diagnosed or Misdiagnosed

    Delirium is frequently underrecognized and misdiagnosed (although there is disagreement as to whether more patients are misclassified as false positive or false negative) (Inouye, Foreman, Mion , Katz, & Cooney, 2001). 

    Recognition of delirium is especially problematic in elderly patients with an underlying dementia or those with the hypoactive  hyperalert variant of delirium. 

    Explanations for the under recognition and misdiagnosis of delirium include the fluctuating nature of delirium; the variable presentation of delirium; the similarity among and frequent cooccurrence of delirium, dementia, and depression; and the failure of providers to use standardized methods of detection.

Recognition of Delirium

    Improving the recognition of delirium requires a complex and dynamic solution. Knowledge of delirium and skill in its detection are necessary starting points for improving the recognition of delirium. 

    However, knowledge and skill alone are insufficient, given the profound impediment to the recognition of delirium posed by negative mind stereotypes. 

    These conclusions are supported by the work of McCarthy (2003), which also highlights the powerful influence of the practice environment on how providers think about and respond to delirium.

Instrument for Delirium Diagnoses 

    Several instruments have been developed to screen for or diagnose delirium. 

    Such instruments include: Folstein's Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Inouye's Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), Vermeersch's Clinical Assessment of Confusion  Form A (CAC-A), Albert's Delirium Symptom Interview (DSI), Trzepacz's Delirium Rating Scale (DRS ), Neelon and Champagne's NEECHAM Confusion Scale (NEECHAM), O'Keefe's Delirium Assessment Scale (DAS), and Breitbart's Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS). 

    Each has its advantages and disadvantages; the selection of which instrument to use depends in part on the purpose and patient population. The most frequently used instrument in research and clinical practice is Inouye's CAM. These instruments are reviewed in greater detail elsewhere (Foreman & Vermeersch, 2004; Rapp et al., 2000). 

    Expert opinion recommends the routine use of brief, standardized bedside screening measures as timely, effective, and inexpensive methods for assessing cognitive status and diagnosing delirium. Current standards for surveillance of delirium are to screen for the presence of delirium on admission to the hospital and at a minimum daily. 

    Others recommend brief screening every 8 hours as an element of the standard nursing assessment. Additionally, when there is evidence of new inattention, unusual or inappropriate behavior or speech, or noticeable changes in the way the patient thinks, it is recommended that the assessment be repeated.

Strategies To Treat Delirium

    A few strategies to prevent and/or treat delirium in hospitalized patients have been tested with various groups of hospitalized adult patients; most have resulted in only modest benefits (Cole, 1999). The prevailing principles guiding prevention and treatment consist of multifactorial interventions that: 

(a) identify patients at risk.

(b) target strategies to minimize or eliminate the occurrence of precipitating factors as primary prevention accomplished through risk reduction.

(c) identify, correct or eliminate the underlying cause(s) while providing symptomatic and supportive care.

    Multicomponent interventions targeting several risk factors, rather than targeting a single risk factor for delirium, and interventions with surgical versus medical patients have proved more successful in reducing the incidence, severity, or duration of delirium. 

    However, interventions have had no effect on the recurrence of delirium or on outcomes 6 months after discharge from the hospital. 

    To better understand why these interventions have not been more successful, some investigators have conducted post-hoc analyzes to identify characteristics of patients for whom these interventions have failed. 

    These analyzes have indicated that these interventions were less successful with patients who are at greatest risk for delirium: those who are demented, functionally impaired, and frailer. 

    However, it is difficult to determine how to improve these interventions because these studies have been conceptually confused: efficacy has been confused with effectiveness; changing provider behavior has been confused with preventing or treating underlying causal agents for delirium; and primary prevention has been confused with secondary prevention. 

    Moreover, interventions have targeted risk factors rather than the underlying pathogenetic mechanisms (Le., the metabolic and physiological deviations that disrupt neurotransmitter synthesis and functioning) ( Trzepacz , 1999). 

    Also, these studies have not been designed or powered in such a way as to determine which of the multi components actually contributed to the positive outcomes.

Prevention And Treatment of Delirium

    To improve the recognition, prevention, and treatment of delirium, the APA (1999), British Geriatrics Society (1999), and University of low a Gerontological Nursing Interventions Research Center (Rapp and the low a Veterans Affairs Nursing Research Consortium, 1998) have developed practice guidelines. 

    These guidelines tend to be comprehensive and are generally based on expert clinical opinion; few aspects of these guidelines are based on empirical evidence. 

    Moreover, Young and George (2003) the individuals responsible for compiling the British guidelines found that the existence of guidelines failed to improve the process and outcomes of care in delirium, indicating that much work remains to improve the care of individuals at risk for or experiencing delirium.

     On the basis of this summary of the state of knowledge of delirium, the need for further study of delirium in all care settings is clearly documented. 

    Such study should focus on all aspects of delirium, including the epidemiology and natural history of delirium, to improve our understanding of the duration, severeness, persistence, and recurrence of delirium and to better target and time interventions. 

    Greater insight into the underlying pathogenetic mechanism(s) of delirium would enable more rigorous development and testing of the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions to prevent and treat delirium.

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