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BMC Geriatr. 2005 Mar 17;5:5.

Incomplete functional recovery after delirium in elderly people: a prospective cohort study.

Author information

1
Division of Geriatric Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. mandrew@dal.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Delirium often has a poor outcome, but why some people have incomplete recovery is not well understood. Our objective was to identify factors associated with short-term (by discharge) and long-term (by 6 month) incomplete recovery of function following delirium.

METHODS:

In a prospective cohort study of elderly patients with delirium seen by geriatric medicine services, function was assessed at baseline, at hospital discharge and at six months.

RESULTS:

Of 77 patients, vital and functional status at 6 months was known for 71, of whom 21 (30%) had died. Incomplete functional recovery, defined as > or =10 point decline in the Barthel Index, compared to pre-morbid status, was present in 27 (54%) of the 50 survivors. Factors associated with death or loss of function at hospital discharge were frailty, absence of agitation (hypoactive delirium), a cardiac cause and poor recognition of delirium by the treating service. Frailty, causes other than medications, and poor recognition of delirium by the treating service were associated with death or poor functional recovery at 6 months.

CONCLUSION:

Pre-existing frailty, cardiac cause of delirium, and poor early recognition by treating physicians are associated with worse outcomes. Many physicians view the adverse outcomes of delirium as intractable. While in some measure this might be true, more skilled care is a potential remedy within their grasp.

PMID:
15774005
PMCID:
PMC1079829
DOI:
10.1186/1471-2318-5-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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