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Meera Agar

, Yesne Alici

, and William S. Breitbart

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date: 17 May 2022

Delirium is the most common and serious neuropsychiatric complication in palliative care settings. It is a source of significant morbidity in patients, and often distresses family members and staff. Delirium is often a harbinger of impending death and can significantly interfere with pain and symptom control. Unfortunately delirium is often under-recognized or misdiagnosed in the terminally ill, and even when recognized, it frequently goes untreated or is inappropriately treated. Clinicians who care for patients with advanced illness must be able to diagnose delirium accurately, undertake appropriate assessment of aetiologies, and understand the risks and benefits of the pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions currently available for managing delirium. Symptomatic treatment with antipsychotics or sedative medications is often necessary for the delirious patient with advanced illness to minimize distress to patients, families, and staff.

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