The Portal of Geriatrics Online Education

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Delirium: Impact and Recognition

Date Posted: 
Date Reviewed/Updated for Clinical Accuracy: 
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Delirium is one of the most common complications during hospitalization for older adults. In spite of this and its association with increased morbidity, mortality and long-term cognitive impairment, delirium can be difficult to diagnose. The primary goal of this educational program is to increase knowledge and recognition of delirium for all members of the interdisciplinary hospital team, including physicians, nurses and rehabilitaton therapists.

This 20-question module is the first of two modules on delirium in the elderly hospitalized patient. This module focuses on the epidemiology, risk factors, impact and recognition of delirium in the geriatric patient. It is delivered using Interactive Spaced Education (ISE), a novel approach to online education in which small amounts of educational material are delivered and repeated over spaced intervals via interactive emails. The learner receives two questions with educational feedback every other day, and must answer each question correctly twice in a row. The average learner will complete the module in approximately 6-8 weeks, but spending only 10 minutes every other day.

Educational objectives: 

Upon completion of this module, the learner will be able to:

  1. List at least three risk factors for delirium in the hospital.
  2. State that there is a relationship between episodes of delirium and long-term cognitive impairment.
  3. Recognize the prevalence, morbidity and mortality associated with delirium in hospitalized elders.
  4. Use the Confusion Assessment Method to screen for delirium.
  5. Recognize features that differentiate delirium from dementia.
Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

We acknowledge the following individuals who reviewed and edited this module: Rose Bjorklund, P.T.; Catherine Currier-Buckingham, P.T. MBA; Elinor Hart, P.T.; Judith J. Joseph, OTR, MA; Lindsay Norene, M.A. CCC-SLP; Tom MacAdam, P.T.; Anita Major, M.D.; Jennifer Mebane, M.A. CCC-SLP; Lindsay Norene, M.D. CCC-SLP; Shannon Pearce, DNP, RN, A/GNP-BC; Judy Ragsdale, P.T.; James Rudolph, M.D.; Sarah Sheedy, MS CCC-SLP; George Taffet, M.D.; Terry Throckmorton, PhD, RN; Pam Willson, PhD, RN, FNP-BC.

Date posted: 
Thu, 05/02/2013
Date Submitted or Reviewed/Updated for Clinical Accuracy: 
Thu, 05/02/2013
Contact Person/Corresponding Author:

Suggested Citation:
and . Delirium: Impact and Recognition. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2013 Available from:
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