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Treating Delirium

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, November 14, 2011
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This article appears in the November 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

The geriatric resource nurse registered nurse model has nursing specialists at the bedside in different units, often in the intensive care units.

The 518-licensed-bed North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, MN, has focused on improving outcomes related to delirium, which elderly patients often face during extended hospital stays.

Susan Schumacher, MS, APRN, BC, geriatric clinical nurse specialist, says a revamped nursing structure dedicated to geriatric care was important for the hospital in confronting delirium in patients and frail elders. In internal programs, new nurses attend sessions on delirium and other ailments faced by geriatric patients.

“We hit on the delirium and confusion issue, which is quite common in older patients, and more so with patients having dementia,” Schumacher says. “Unfortunately a lot of patients develop delirium when they come into the hospital, and that leads to poor outcomes.” At least 35%–50% of hospitalized older patients experience functional decline between hospital admission and when they are discharged, according to Schumacher.

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