OBJECTIVES: To ascertain the most common causes of delirium, to establish the initiation and timing of delirium, and to determine the duration of delirium in patients with hip fracture. METHODS: Five hundred seventy-one (88%) of 650 patients with hip fracture admitted to 4 New York City hospitals were prospectively interviewed on a daily basis, 5 days a week, with the Confusion Assessment Method for the presence of delirium. The patients were enrolled within 48 hours of admission. Their medical charts and the data collected by the study staff were reviewed and summarized. Two of us (R.S.M. and A.L.S.) reviewed the case summaries independently and assigned a cause based on a previously developed classification system, estimated the onset of the delirious episode, and determined whether the delirium had cleared, improved, or persisted at discharge. Subsequently, discrepancies in cause, timing of initiation, and mental status on discharge between the 2 physicians reviewers were discussed until consensus was reached. RESULTS: The prevalence of delirium was 9.5% (54/ 571; 95% confidence interval, 7.0-11.9). Seven percent of episodes were assigned a definite cause, 20% a probable cause, 11% a possible cause, and 61% were attributable to 1 or more comorbid conditions. Twenty-eight (53%) of 54 subjects developed delirium after surgery. The delirium had cleared or improved in 40 (74%) of 54 subjects at the time of discharge. CONCLUSIONS: Delirium in patients with hip fracture appears to be a different syndrome from that observed in patients who are otherwise medically ill; it also appears to follow a different clinical course. These results have important implications for the management of delirium in patients with hip fracture.
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