Delirium is an acute confusional state characterised by a global disturbance in cerebral function affecting consciousness, attention, cognition and perception with a course that may fluctuate over a period of hours. It is a common cause of disturbed behaviour in medically ill patients and studies have shown that it is extremely common in palliative care patients.
Studies have shown that 29-42% of patients have delirium on admission to a palliative care unit; 88% of patients in the last few days of life. The symptoms of delirium are distressing for the patient, their relatives and care givers and expose the sufferer to the risk of further harm e.g. falls.
The above is an extract from our Delirium guideline.