Delirium Due to Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations Among Older Adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2024 Mar 1;79(3):glad256. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glad256.


Background: Delirium is a common complication during acute care hospitalizations in older adults. A substantial percentage of admissions are for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions (ACSCs) or potentially avoidable hospitalizations-conditions that might be treated early in the outpatient setting to prevent hospitalization and hospital complications.

Methods: This retrospective cross-sectional study examined rates of delirium among older adults hospitalized for ACSCs. Participants were 39 933 older adults ≥65 years of age admitted from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2019 to general inpatient units and ICUs of a large Southeastern academic medical center. Delirium was defined as a score ≥ 2 on the Nursing Delirium Screening Scale or positive on the Confusion Assessment Method for the Intensive Care Unit during admission, and ACSCs were identified from the primary admission diagnosis using standardized definitions. Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine the association between ACSCs and delirium, compared with admissions for non-ACSC diagnoses, adjusting for covariates and repeated observations for individuals with multiple admissions.

Results: Delirium occurred in 15.6% of admissions for older adults. Rates were lower for ACSC admissions versus admissions for other conditions (13.9% vs 15.8%, p < .001). Older age and higher comorbidity were significant predictors of the development of delirium.

Conclusions: Rates of delirium among older adults hospitalized for ACSCs were lower than rates for non-ACSC hospitalization but still substantial. Optimizing the treatment of ACSCs in the outpatient setting is an important goal not only for reducing hospitalizations but also for reducing risks for hospital-associated complications such as delirium.

Keywords: Ambulatory care-sensitive conditions; Delirium; Older adults; Potentially avoidable hospitalizations.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delirium* / diagnosis
  • Delirium* / epidemiology
  • Delirium* / etiology
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies