Delirium Clinical Care Standard

The Delirium Clinical Care Standard provides guidance to consumers, clinicians and health services on delivering appropriate care to people at risk of, or with, delirium.

Delirium is an acute change in mental status that is common among older people in hospital. Characterised by a disturbance of consciousness, attention, cognition and perception that develops over a short period of time (usually hours to a few days), delirium is a serious condition and is associated with increased risk of harm.

Compared with people of the same age who do not have delirium, people with delirium have an increased risk of death, increased risk of falls, a greater chance of being discharged to a higher dependency of care, and a greater chance of developing dementia.

About 10% of Australians aged over 70 years have delirium at the time of admission to hospital, and a further 8% develop delirium during a hospital admission. The incidence of delirium is higher in certain hospital settings, with more than 30% of patients with delirium following hip and cardiac surgery or during a stay in intensive care.

Despite being a common condition, delirium is poorly recognised and cases are often missed.

The Delirium Clinical Care Standard and accompanying resources provide guidance to consumers, clinicians and health services on delivering appropriate care to people at risk of, or with, delirium