Ann Intern Med. 2021 Nov 9. doi: 10.7326/M21-1687. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Systematic screening improves delirium identification among hospitalized older adults. Little data exist on how to implement such screening.
OBJECTIVE: To test implementation of a brief app-directed protocol for delirium identification by physicians, nurses, and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in real-world practice relative to a research reference standard delirium assessment (RSDA).
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.
SETTING: Large urban academic medical center and small rural community hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: 527 general medicine inpatients (mean age, 80 years; 35% with preexisting dementia) and 399 clinicians (53 hospitalists, 236 nurses, and 110 CNAs).
MEASUREMENTS: On 2 study days, enrolled patients had an RSDA. Subsequently, CNAs performed an ultra-brief 2-item screen (UB-2) for delirium, whereas physicians and nurses performed a 2-step protocol consisting of the UB-2 followed in those with a positive screen result by the 3-Minute Diagnostic Assessment for the Confusion Assessment Method.
RESULTS: Delirium was diagnosed in 154 of 924 RSDAs (17%) and in 114 of 527 patients (22%). The completion rate for clinician protocols exceeded 97%. The CNAs administered the UB-2 in a mean of 62 seconds (SD, 51). The 2-step protocols were administered in means of 104 seconds (SD, 99) by nurses and 106 seconds (SD, 105) by physicians. The UB-2 had sensitivities of 88% (95% CI, 72% to 96%), 87% (CI, 73% to 95%), and 82% (CI, 65% to 91%) when administered by CNAs, nurses, and physicians, respectively, with specificities of 64% to 70%. The 2-step protocol had overall accuracy of 89% (CI, 83% to 93%) and 87% (CI, 81% to 91%), with sensitivities of 65% (CI, 48% to 79%) and 63% (CI, 46% to 77%) and specificities of 93% (CI, 88% to 96%) and 91% (CI, 86% to 95%), for nurses and physicians, respectively. Two-step protocol sensitivity for moderate to severe delirium was 78% (CI, 54% to 91%).
LIMITATION: Two sites; limited diversity.
CONCLUSION: An app-directed protocol for delirium identification was feasible, brief, and accurate, and CNAs and nurses performed as well as hospitalists.
PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: National Institute on Aging.