Nursing Practices to Detect Acute Delirium, Safeguard Patients Experiencing Acute Delirium, and Help Reduce or Eliminate Acute Delirium

  •  Gail Low    
  •  Amy Thurston    
  •  Bonnie Lichlyter    
  •  Janice Kinch    
  •  Francene Fahey    
  •  Mary-Ann Clarkes    


Acute delirium is very common among hospital patients, particularly older patients. Nurses have a major role in
the care of these patients, yet there are no evidence-based nursing care guidelines to help nurses detect patients
who are experiencing acute delirium, safeguard them, and assist their recovery. This study sought to identify and
prioritize nursing practices for detecting these patients, safeguarding them, and assisting their recovery from
acute delirium. A two-stage voluntary paper Delphi survey was used for this purpose. This study targeted all
nurses who worked on adult medical/surgical units at two full-service acute care hospitals in Western Canada
who had cared for a patient diagnosed with acute delirium in the past 12 months. The first survey revealed many
nursing practices exist to detect, safeguard, and assist recovery. The second revealed one preferred practice and
four others for each of the following: Detecting acute delirium, safeguarding patients, and helping patients
recover. Research is now needed to establish if these constitute “best practice” nursing care for enhanced patient

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