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November 2011, Volume 41 Number 11 , p 72 - 72


  • Heather Brown-Guttovz BSN, RN


MRS. C, 86, who appears agitated, is pulling at her I.V. device and yelling at her daughter. As you calmly approach Mrs. C, she shakes her fist and tells you to get out of her house. Assessing her mental status, you find that she's easily distracted but accurately tells you her name. She then tells you that "it's 1974" and she's "at home." Mrs. C's daughter tells you she's worried about her mother because she's never acted this way before.Mrs. C was brought to the ED for fever, dysuria, and urinary urgency and frequency. Mrs. C's daughter tells you that her mother has never been confused and that her hearing aid and glasses were left at home.Mrs. C's signs and symptoms point to delirium, a reversible condition involving an acute change in cognition or perception, as well as attention deficits and disturbances of consciousness that develop over a short period of time and fluctuate throughout the day. Common risk factors for delirium include advanced age, underlying brain diseases such as

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