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Adult nursing
Undiagnosed delirium is common and difficult to predict among hospitalised patients
  1. Gary Mitchell
  1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gary Mitchell, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Belfast BT9 7BL, UK; Gary.Mitchell{at}

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Commentary on: Lange P, Lamanna M, Watson R, et al. Undiagnosed delirium is frequent and difficult to predict: results from a prevalence survey of a tertiary hospital. JClin Nurs 2019; 28; 2537–42.

Implications for practice and research

  • Delirium is common but it is frequently undiagnosed within hospital settings internationally.

  • Older age and dementia are the strongest predictive factors associated with undiagnosed delirium.

  • Validated assessment of all hospitalised patients for delirium is recommended to improve delirium diagnosis among hospitalised patients.


Previous research on delirium prevalence in hospital settings suggests it is a common condition which can affect around 20% of older people.1 Although delirium is both preventable and treatable, healthcare professionals often lack the necessary knowledge and skills regarding delirium …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.