Delirium robs dying people of their autonomy, dignity and last conversations with loved ones, at a time when every moment is precious.
Symptoms are highly distressing to experience and watch. Confusion, incoherent communication, poor attention, agitation, drowsiness and hallucinations are some markers of this common complication for people dying in hospital from cancer and other advanced illnesses. On average one in three people in end-of-life hospital care are affected.
Doctors commonly prescribe antipsychotic medications to try to relieve these symptoms. However, our study just published in JAMA Internal Medicine, raises serious concerns about their safety and efficacy.
So, what are we to do for people experiencing delirium, who are robbed of their mental awareness and ability to communicate?
Here are the first ten tips that came to mind for the management of delirium in specialist palliative care.* Of course, there are many more to list. Please share your top tips in the comments. Continue reading →
In palliative care, delirium is everyone’s business. Anyone can get delirium if they are seriously ill. It is a distressing symptom – for the person with delirium, their loved ones and the professionals who care for them. Although it is common, potentially preventable and may be reversible, it is often missed, misdiagnosed and mismanaged despite our best intentions.
This 5-minute video is an excellent resource for the public and health professionals alike, (and seems to cover everything that it takes me 45 minutes to teach to nurses or doctors!). I discovered it via its co-creator, Delirium Champion Dr MS Krishnan.
This week, I am taking over Palliverse to share posts about delirium in palliative care – from conferences to clinical standards to a heart-wrenching personal story. Continue reading →