Screening for delirium in the emergency department: A systematic review

Michael A. Lamantia, Frank C. Messina, Cherri D. Hobgood, Douglas K. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Older adults who visit emergency departments (EDs) often experience delirium, but it is infrequently recognized. A systematic review was therefore conducted to identify what delirium screening tools have been used in ED-based epidemiologic studies of delirium, whether there is a validated set of screening instruments to identify delirium among older adults in the ED or prehospital environments, and an ideal schedule during an older adult's visit to perform a delirium evaluation. MEDLINE/EMBASE, Cochrane, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched from inception through February 2013 for original, English-language research articles reporting on the assessment of older adults' mental status for delirium. Twenty-two articles met all study inclusion criteria. Overall, 7 screening instruments were identified, though only 1 has undergone initial validation for use in the ED environment and a second instrument is currently undergoing such validation. Minimal information was identified to suggest the ideal scheduling of a delirium assessment process to maximize the recognition of this condition in the ED. Study results indicate that several delirium screening tools have been used in investigations in the ED, though validation of these instruments for this particular environment has been minimal to date. The ideal interval(s) during which a delirium screening process should take place has yet to be determined. Research will be needed both to validate delirium screening instruments to be used for investigation and clinical care in the ED and to define the ideal timing and form of the delirium assessment process for older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-560.e2
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine


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