Delirium, a ‘confusing’ condition in general hospitals: The experience of a Consultation–Liaison Psychiatry Unit in Greece
Panagiota Goulia, Christos Mantas, Thomas Hyphantis
Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Medical School, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece
Background/aims: A plethora of studies showed that delirium is common in hospitalized populations. We aimed to examine the characteristics of delirium patients referred to our Consultation–Liaison Psychiatry Unit (CLPU).
Methods: Our CLPU database was used to obtain data of all referred patients admitted to our hospital and diagnosed with delirium. All referred nondelirious patients served as controls.
Results: During one year, 483 patients were referred to the CLPU. Ninety-three (19.3%) were diagnosed with delirium. Delirious patients were older than nondelirious patients (P < 0.001), with 76.3% aged over 70 years. The majority of the referrals came from surgical specialties. Common etiological factors were fluid and electrolyte imbalance (29%), fractures (28%) and infections (24%), but laboratory tests for the investigation of the etiology prior to the consultation had been performed in only 12 patients (12.9%). The syndrome resulted in prolonged hospitalization and greater use of CLPU services.
Conclusions: Referrals for delirium are frequent in CLPUs in Greece. Although delirium is common, it remains a ‘confusing’ condition for health practitioners. The under-diagnosis of delirium, the prolonged hospitalization and the time that the CLPU dedicated to these patients underlines the role of the CLPU psychiatrists in the management of the syndrome.
Keywords: delirium, general hospital, consultation–liaison psychiatry, referrals, Greece
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