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Delirium Part 1: Prevalence, Pathology, Risk Factors, and Prevention

presented by Kathleen Fletcher, RN, DNP, GNP-BC, FAAN and Heather Teller, BSN, BA, RN, CMSRN, GRN

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial— Kathleen Fletcher and Heather Teller receive compensation from MedBridge for the production of this course. There are no other relevant financial relationships. Nonfinancial— No relevant nonfinancial relationship exists.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Video Runtime: 35 Minutes; Learning Assessment Time: 29 Minutes

Delirium is an acute state of confusion characterized by its sudden onset, fluctuating course, impaired attention, and disorganized thinking. It can be the first sign of acute illness. This first course in a series of three gives nurses in all settings an understanding of the prevalence and pathology of delirium. Specific risk factors will be discussed with an emphasis on preventable strategies.

Meet Your Instructors

Kathleen Fletcher, RN, DNP, GNP-BC, FAAN

Kathleen Fletcher is currently working as a PRN staff nurse at the Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health and as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. She maintains a hands-on role, working as a clinician, educator, and researcher in gerontology for more than 35 years. She…

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Heather Teller, BSN, BA, RN, CMSRN, GRN

Heather Teller is a Virginia-based nurse educator and acute care facility staff development coordinator. For the past eight years, she has worked on the subject of delirium as part of an interdisciplinary team at Riverside Health System. During that time, she developed the nursing education program to help reduce hospital-acquired delirium and aid in the…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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Download the learning objectives for Delirium Part 1: Prevalence, Pathology, Risk Factors, and Prevention.

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1. Definition and Prevalence of Delirium

Licensed nurses (RN, LPN) in all settings need to understand how delirium is defined and the various forms of it. Delirium is often mistaken for dementia, and complicating the picture is the fact that they often coexist. Since delirium is often not recognized, appreciating the frequency of it will help nurses recognize its features earlier in the course and take appropriate action.

2. Pathology of Delirium

A greater understanding of the potential pathologies of delirium and the laboratory and imaging studies that may be ordered by the primary care provider will help nurses understand the cause(s) of it and report and respond quickly. This chapter focuses on the pathology of delirium. The purpose of this chapter is to help nurses glean a better understanding of the interacting biological factors that lead to acute cognitive dysfunction.

3. Risk Factors and Preventive Strategies

Evidence-based studies have defined the predisposing and precipitating factors for delirium. This chapter aims to assist nurses to identify risk factors for delirium and the appropriate preventive strategies in order to decrease the occurrence or duration of delirium.

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