Delirium: Prevent, Identify, Treat

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A joint and interdisciplinary collaboration between the American Nurses Association and the American Delirium Society

Delirium is an acute, serious, and often preventable, medical condition characterized by confusion and a disturbed thought process, often following assault to the body such as surgery, infection, dehydration, or certain medications. Delirium affects large numbers of patients across all healthcare settings, including children, by negatively impacting patient outcomes, causing family caregiver distress and increasing financial costs. Read more >>

Did you know delirium is common, serious, and often preventable?


  • Delirium occurs in up to 25% hospitalized patients, 50% of surgical patients, 20% of nursing home patients, 77% of burn patients and 75% of ICU patients.1, 2
  • An estimated 37% of surgical patients experience postoperative delirium.3
  • Delirium may be higher in patients 70 years of age or older.3
  • Delirium occurs in up to 50% of patients with dementia that require hospitalization.4


  • Delirium is associated with many adverse outcomes which include: increased mortality, falls, functional decline, cognitive impairment and decline and significant costs.5
  • Delirium superimposed on dementia may accelerate the trajectory of decline and often results in long lengths of stay, readmissions, premature nursing home placement or death.4
  • Delirium is a major financial burden to medical services and costs range from $38 to $152 billion per year.3


  • Since frontline nurses are in direct contact with patients 24 hours per day and seven days a week, RNs need to drive delirium prevention. The best prevention protocol simply consists of high-level nursing care.6

References for statistics available here >>

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