Management of delirium in medicine: experience of a Close Observation Unit

Australas J Ageing. 2013 Mar;32(1):60-3. doi: 10.1111/ajag.12007. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


Aim: A new model of care for the management of patients with delirium was developed and evaluated.

Method: A four-bedded Close Observation Unit (COU) was introduced. The model comprised education for assistants in nursing (AINs), environmental adaptations and AIN-to-patient ratio of 1:4. Outcomes in all patients with delirium before and after introduction of the new model of care were compared.

Results: One hundred and five patients were admitted to COU, of whom 100 (95%) were diagnosed with delirium. In-hospital mortality improved after introduction of the unit (15% vs 5%; P = 0.002) without significant change in length of stay, discharge destination or falls frequency.

Conclusion: A dedicated unit for delirium management within medicine achieved a reduction in mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Delirium / mortality
  • Delirium / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male