Delirium affects a diverse patient population, may present with highly variable clinical features, is a source of distress for patients and their caregivers, prolongs hospital stays and may herald a poor prognosis. Many cases of delirium are reversible and therefore a full history, physical examination and investigations should be performed. Ahigh degree of suspicion is required for detecting delirium and thorough investigations are necessary in order to determine the underlying etiology and to maximize the potential for reversibility. The following review outlines important aspects of a clinical approach to delirium, the differential diagnosis of delirium, investigation of a patient presenting with delirium, management of delirium, the pathophysiology of delirium and the prognosis accompanying delirium.
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