Diagnosis and management of delirium near the end of life

Ann Intern Med. 2001 Jul 3;135(1):32-40. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-135-1-200107030-00011.


Delirium is a common and distressing symptom that constitutes a significant challenge for end-of-life care. However, reliable techniques are available for the diagnosis of delirium, and effective therapies exist as well. This consensus paper uses a case-based format that begins with an overview of the definition and presentation of delirium. Next, strategies for diagnosis are suggested, with attention to the unique challenges that clinicians face in pursuing a diagnostic work-up for patients near the end of life. The paper concludes with a review of therapeutic options.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Delirium / etiology
  • Delirium / prevention & control
  • Delirium / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology
  • Physical Examination
  • Terminal Care / methods*
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*