Delirium risk screening and haloperidol prophylaxis program in hip fracture patients is a helpful tool in identifying high-risk patients, but does not reduce the incidence of delirium

BMC Geriatr. 2011 Aug 11;11:39. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-11-39.


Background: Delirium in patients with hip fractures lead to higher morbidity and mortality. Prevention in high-risk patients by prescribing low dose haloperidol is currently under investigation.

Methods: This prospective cohort surveillance assessed hip fracture patients for risk of developing a delirium with the Risk Model for Delirium (RD) score. High-risk patients (score ≥ 5 points) were treated with a prophylactic low-dose of haloperidol according to hospital protocol. Primary outcome was delirium incidence. Secondary outcomes were differences between high- and low-risk patients in delirium, length of stay (LOS), return to pre-fracture living situation and mortality. Logistic regression analysis was performed with age, ASA-classification, known dementia, having a partner, type of fracture, institutional residence and psychotropic drug use as possible confounders.

Results: 445 hip fracture patients aged 65 years and older were admitted from January 2008 to December 2009. The RD-score was completed in 378 patients, 173 (45.8%) high-risk patients were treated with prophylactic medication. Sensitivity was 71.6%, specificity 63.8% and the negative predictive value (NPV) of a score < 5 was 85.9%.Delirium incidence (27.0%) was not significantly different compared to 2007 (27.8%) 2006 (23.9%) and 2005 (29.0%) prior to implementation of the RD- protocol.Logistic regression analysis showed that high-risk patients did have a significant higher delirium incidence (42.2% vs. 14.1%, OR 4.1, CI 2.43-7.02). They were more likely to be residing at an alternative living situation after 3 months (62.3% vs. 17.0%, OR 6.57, CI 3.23-13.37) and less likely to be discharged from hospital before 10 days (34.9% vs. 55.9%, OR 1.63, CI 1.03-2.59). Significant independent risk factors for a delirium were a RD-score ≥ 5 (OR 4.13, CI 2.43-7.02), male gender (OR 1.93, CI 0.99-1.07) and age (OR 1.03, CI 0.99-1.07).

Conclusions: Introducing the delirium prevention protocol did not reduce delirium incidence.The RD-score did identify patients with a high risk to develop a delirium. This high-risk group had a longer LOS and returned to pre-fracture living situation less often.The NPV of a score < 5 was high, as it should be for a screening instrument. Concluding, the RD-score is a useful tool to identify patients with poorer outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Delirium / drug therapy*
  • Delirium / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Haloperidol / administration & dosage*
  • Hip Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Hip Fractures / drug therapy*
  • Hip Fractures / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Haloperidol