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Delirium, Confusion, and Agitation 

Delirium, Confusion, and Agitation
Delirium, Confusion, and Agitation

Wendy Goldberg

, Greg Mahr

, Amy M. Williams

, and Michael Ryan

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date: 07 July 2020

Delirium is a serious and common complication of the medical care of the seriously or terminally ill. Patients present as confused, agitated, abstracted, or withdrawn. Delirium, though challenging to diagnose, is important to recognize and treat. Medical complications, length of stay, cost of care, and caregiver burden are all adversely affected by the presence of delirium. The authors review diagnostic issues, including commonly used screening tools. Pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions are described in detail. Such interventions have been shown to both prevent and effectively treat delirium. Delirium, and the agitation and confusion that can accompany the disorder, is very frustrating for families and caregivers. Nursing management and family interventions are particularly important in the management of this complex disorder.

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