Delirium has plagued the ill and vulnerable with increased risk of death for centuries, at least since Hippocrates described the condition in the fourth century B.C. Today, as much as $152 billion is spent annually in the U.S. on delirium related costs such as hospitalization, rehabilitation services, or nursing homes residency.
The new framework outlines four broad goals and details steps to achieve them:
Goal 1: Improve clinical care related to delirium including screening patients for delirium risk and developing non-toxic treatments for delirium.
Goal 2: Improve delirium education especially improving public understanding that a change in mental status in an older patient is a medical emergency and correcting the misconception among health care providers that delirium is a 'normal' feature of hospitalization in older patients.
Goal 3: Invest in delirium science by funding research at levels comparable to diseases with similar outcomes. In 2009, NIH funding for delirium was only $12 million compared to $392 for pneumonia/influenza.
Goal 4: Develop a network of delirium professionals to advance the first three goals.
"Delirium may be averted or resolved but we are missing it because we are not focused on preventing, diagnosing or managing it. We need to improve inputs into the brain, create healing environments that do not overload their brains, and cautiously use medications tha act in the brain. Most importantly, we need to make sure we are alert to signs of delirium and address it as soon as possible," said Dr. Rudolph.
Ultimately the patient and his or her caregivers bear the burdens of delirium and the consequences thereafter. The focus of this call to action puts the patient at the forefront.
"Patients, family members, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and everyone involve
|Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen|
Indiana University School of Medicine