Delirium is an acute, fluctuating confusional state that results in poor outcomes for older adults. Dementia causes a more convoluted course when coexisting with delirium. This study examined 128 days of documentation to describe what nurses document when caring for patients with dementia who experience delirium. Nurses did not document that they recognized delirium. Common descriptive terms included words and phrases indicating fluctuating mental status, lethargy, confusion, negative behavior, delusions, and restlessness. Delirium is a medical emergency. Nurses are in need of education coupled with clinical and decisional support to facilitate recognition and treatment of underlying causes of delirium in individuals with dementia.
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