Tijdschrift voor gerontologie en geriatrie vol:39 issue:1 pages:26-34
To assess the current opinions of physicians and nurses regarding the prevention, diagnosis and management of delirium, survey administration was conducted to 2256 nurses and 982 physicians within the University Hospitals of Leuven (Belgium). Response rate was 26% with 819 respondents (600 nurses; 219 physicians) completing the questionnaire. 72% of the respondents considered delirium as a minor problem or no problem at all. Yet over half of respondents working on a palliative care unit (87%, n=15), traumatological ward (67%, n=18), cardio-thoracic surgery ward (58%, n=20), intensive care unit (55%, n=120) and geriatric ward (55%, n=42) reported it as a serious problem. Delirium was considered as an underdiagnosed (85%) but preventable (75%) syndrome. Yet patients at risk are rarely (34%) or never (52%) screened for delirium. In case of screening (48%), only 4% used a specific validated assessment tool. 97% of all respondents were convinced that delirium requires an active and immediate intervention of nurse and physician. 82% of the physicians preferred haldol to treat delirium, in case of alcohol withdrawal 69% chose tranxene. Physical restraints were considered important in the management of delirium by a greater proportion of nurses (49%) than physicians (28%). The severity of the problem is underestimated. While opinions regarding the treatment were quite correct, prevention and early detection of delirium deserve more attention.