Purpose of review
This article reviews the current literature on instruments used for screening and diagnosing delirium in perioperative and intensive care medicine. It summarizes recent findings to guide clinicians and researchers in choosing the most appropriate tools.
The incidence of delirium in hospitalized patients ranges from 5% to over 50%, depending on the population of patients studied. Failure to diagnose delirium in a timely manner is associated with serious adverse outcomes, including death and institutionalization. Valid assessment tests are needed for delirium detection, as early identification and treatment of delirium may help to prevent complications. Currently, there are more than 30 available instruments, which have been developed to assist with the screening and diagnosis of delirium. However, these tools vary greatly in sensitivity, specificity, and administration time, and their overabundance challenges the selection of specific tool as well as direct comparisons and interpretation of results across studies.
Overlooking or misdiagnosing delirium may result in poor patient outcomes. Familiarizing healthcare workers with the variety of delirium assessments and selecting the most appropriate tool to their needs is an important step toward improving awareness and recognition of delirium.
- Delirium is a common, serious, and often preventable complication affecting older adults.
- Overlooking or misdiagnosing delirium may result in poor patient outcomes.
- Appropriate delirium screening and diagnostics is recommended by recent international guidelines and remains a critical area of need to ensure optimal prevention and treatment of delirium.
- To date, over 30 unique delirium assessments have been developed to identify affected patients in clinical routine and research.
- The choice of assessment tools for clinical routine and research should be driven by the clinical setting, level of staff training, available time resources, feasibility, and validity of the test.