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01.12.2008 | Originalarbeit | Ausgabe 6/2008

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie 6/2008

How to prevent perioperative delirium in the elderly?

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie > Ausgabe 6/2008
MD Simone Gurlit, PhD Michael Möllmann


Due to increasing life expectancy, the number of elderly patients needing surgical care is increasing. Improvements in surgical techniques and anesthetic procedures offer the opportunity of surgical intervention even in frail patients. Delirium on admission to the hospital or in the perioperative setting is a common and often serious complication. Cognitive impairment is regarded as the main risk factor for delirium; unfortunately, under routine clinical conditions, these deficits often remain undetected. Postoperative delirium is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, as well as increased length of hospitalization, resulting in increased suffering and costs. The aim of the intervention presented here was to prevent delirium in a general hospital without a geriatric specialty department. Geriatric nurses became part of the team in the perioperative setting, giving psychological support and being a continuous companion to the patient and his/her proxies. Co-operation between all professions involved throughout hospitalization of the patient was emphasized. The low incidence of delirium in elderly surgical patients resulting from our efforts indicate that – for this setting in a general hospital – the strategy was effective for the prevention of delirium. Nowadays, geriatric nurses are an essential part of the perioperative team and delirium has lost much of its imminence.

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