Emergency Department Stay Associated Delirium in Older Patients*

Marcel Émond, David Grenier, Jacques Morin, Debra Eagles, Valérie Boucher, Natalie Le Sage, Éric Mercier, Philippe Voyer, Jacques S. Lee



Caring for older patients can be challenging in the Emergency Department (ED). A > 12 hr ED stay could lead to incident episodes of delirium in those patients. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence and impacts of EDstay associated delirium.


A historical cohort of patients who presented to a Canadian ED in 2009 and 2011 was randomly constituted. Included patients were aged ≥ 65 years old, admitted to any hospital ward, non-delirious upon arrival and had at least a 12-hour ED stay. Delirium was detected using a modified chart-based Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) tool. Hospital length
of stay (LOS) was log-transformed and linear regression assessed differences between groups. Adjustments were made
for age and comorbidity profile.


200 records were reviewed, 55.5% were female, median age was 78.9 yrs (SD:7.3). 36(18%) patients experienced ED-stay associated delirium. Nearly 50% of episodes started in the ED and within 36 hours of arrival. Comorbidity profile was similar between the positive CAM group and the negative CAM group. Mean adjusted hospital LOS were 20.5 days
and 11.9 days respectively (p<.03).


1 older adult out of 5 became delirious after a 12 hr ED stay. Since delirium increases hospital LOS by more than a week, better screening and implementation of preventing measures for delirium could reduce LOS and overcrowding in the ED.


elders; emergency department; incidence; delirium

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.20.246


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ISSN: 1925-8348 (Online)