Background: Refeeding syndrome describes a pattern of electrolyte disturbances occurring after the reintroduction of nutrition to the malnourished patient; it is often associated with delirium.
Objective: The authors investigated whether hospitalized elderly patients who develop delirium are more likely to have laboratory findings consistent with refeeding syndrome.
Method: The authors conducted a retrospective chart review of 100 patients over age 60. Charts were examined for indications of delirium and refeeding syndrome.
Results: Significantly lower serum levels of magnesium and phosphate were found in patients with delirium. Delirium was not associated with any significant difference in levels of potassium.
Conclusion: This study supports an association between delirium in elderly patients and electrolyte changes consistent with those seen in refeeding syndrome.