Delirium underdiagnosed in advanced cancer patients visiting emergency department

From News Medical:

A new study indicates that delirium is relatively frequent and underdiagnosed by physicians in patients with advanced cancer visiting the emergency department. Delirium was similarly common among older and younger patients, which suggests that in the setting of advanced cancer, all patients should be considered at higher risk for delirium. The findings are published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Delirium is the most common neuro-psychiatric syndrome in patients with advanced cancer, but most delirium studies in cancer patients have been limited to the palliative care setting, while those in the emergency department setting have been limited to elderly patients. To investigate the frequency of delirium among patients with cancer presenting to the emergency department, a team led by Knox Todd, MD, MPH, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, assessed a random sample of English-speaking advanced cancer patients who presented to the emergency department. All patients were assessed with two methods: the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) to screen for delirium and the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) to measure delirium severity (mild ≤15, moderate 16-22, and severe ≥23).

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