Delirium is a common disorder especially among older people admitted to medical and surgical units. Research has demonstrated that many cases are underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed or not properly managed. Some of the difficulties encountered in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention may, in part, stem from a historical low emphasis on delirium in medical and nursing education. In recent years, attempts have been made to understand the impact of education on the prevention and management of delirium. In this review, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of delirium are considered in relation to the difficulties encountered in each of these areas. The role of increasing doctors' and nurses' awareness in the understanding of delirium through educational programs is also reviewed. The outcome of many cases of delirium is not changed by current treatment; however, there is increasing evidence that strategies employing appropriate multicomponent and/or educational staff intervention programs may decrease the prevalence of delirium.