Delirium: Risk Factors, Contributors, Identification, Work-Up, and Treatment

  • Timothy LauEmail author
  • Elizabeth Kozyra
  • Catherine Cheng


Delirium is a common, serious, and life-threatening condition that is often missed and poorly managed. Increasing evidence argues that health-care providers need to assess the mental status of the patient as the “sixth vital sign.” Although functional neuroimaging and CSF biomarkers are being studied in delirium management, the diagnosis is a clinical one without a laboratory test or imaging to confirm it.

Delirium is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, slower rate of recovery, poor functional and cognitive recovery, decreased quality of life, hospital-acquired complications, placement in specialized intermediate and long-term care facilities, increased cost of care, and prolonged hospital stays. Management includes the rapid identification of the cause(s), and correcting it/them if possible. Managing risk factors such as dehydration, infection, polypharmacy, immobility, restraints, and sensory impairment is key in both identifying the cause and reducing the consequences and optimizing patient care. This chapter will explore the identification, work-up, risk factors, and management of this important condition.


Delirium Confusion Geriatric inpatient 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Timothy Lau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth Kozyra
    • 2
  • Catherine Cheng
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Department of Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry Inpatient Unit, The RoyalOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Memorial University School of PharmacyOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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