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Delirium markers in older fallers: a case-control study

Authors Doherty K, Archambault E, Kelly B, Rudolph J

Received 12 July 2014

Accepted for publication 7 August 2014

Published 21 November 2014 Volume 2014:9 Pages 2013—2018


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker

Kelly Doherty,1 Elizabeth Archambault,1 Brittany Kelly,1,2 James L Rudolph1,3,4

1Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; 2School of Nursing, Science & Health Professions, Regis College, Boston, MA, USA; 3Division of Aging, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; 4Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Background: When a hospitalized older patient falls or develops delirium, there are significant consequences for the patient and the health care system. Assessments of inattention and altered consciousness, markers for delirium, were analyzed to determine if they were also associated with falls.
Methods: This retrospective case-control study from a regional tertiary Veterans Affairs referral center identified falls and delirium risk factors from quality databases from 2010 to 2012. Older fallers with complete delirium risk assessments prior to falling were identified. As a control, non-fallers were matched at a 3:1 ratio. Admission risk factors that were compared in fallers and non-fallers included altered consciousness, cognitive performance, attention, sensory deficits, and dehydration. Odds ratio (OR) was reported (95% confidence interval [CI]).
Results: After identifying 67 fallers, the control population (n=201) was matched on age (74.4±9.8 years) and ward (83.6% medical; 16.4% intensive care unit). Inattention as assessed by the Months of the Year Backward test was more common in fallers (67.2% versus 50.8%, OR=2.0; 95% CI: 1.1–3.7). Fallers tended to have altered consciousness prior to falling (28.4% versus 12.4%, OR=2.8; 95% CI: 1.3–5.8).
Conclusion: In this case-control study, alterations in consciousness and inattention, assessed prior to falling, were more common in patients who fell. Brief assessments of consciousness and attention should be considered for inclusion in fall prediction.

Keywords: geriatrics, patient centered outcomes research, patient safety

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