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Revista médica de Chile

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CARRASCO G, Marcela et al. Delirium in Chilean elderly inpatients: an overlooked problem. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2005, vol.133, n.12, pp.1449-1454. ISSN 0034-9887.

Background: Delirium is a common underdiagnosed and undertreated problem in elderly inpatients, associated to higher morbidity, mortality and health cost. Aim: To evaluate the prevalence of delirium at hospital admission in medically ill elderly patients and the attending physician's diagnosis and treatment of delirium. Patients and methods: In a prospective and descriptive study, consecutive patients aged 65 years or more, admitted to an internal medicine ward were evaluated by independent physicians, during the first 48 h of admission, to asses the presence of delirium. Diagnosis of delirium was based on the Confusion Assessment Method. Medical and nurse records were reviewed. Family was interviewed when necessary. Results: One hundred eight patients (52% women, age range 65-94 years) with an APACHE II score of 11.6±5, were evaluated. Fifty seven patients (53%) had delirium (32% hyperactive, 72% hypoactive and 5% mixed). Delirium prevalence was significantly higher in older patients (66% among those aged 75 years or older versus 30% in younger, p <0.05) and among patients with more severe conditions (88% among those with an APACHE score over 16 versus 47% below that value, p <0.05). Medical records of patients with delirium showed that this diagnosis was present only in 32% and cognitive deficit was described in 73%. Ten percent of patients with delirium received sedative medication and 38% were physically restricted. There were no environmental interventions to prevent or control delirium. Conclusions: Delirium in elderly inpatients at this unit is an extraordinarily prevalent problem, seriously under diagnosed (68%) and under treated. This study should alerts our medical community to improve the diagnosis and management of delirium in elderly inpatients (Rev Méd Chile 2005; 133: 1449-54)

Keywords : Aged; Delirium; Frailelderly; Hospitalized.

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