Managing agitation secondary to hyperactive delirium in deteriorating patients
Evidence and practice    

Managing agitation secondary to hyperactive delirium in deteriorating patients

Angela Teece Lecturer in adult nursing, School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand how agitation secondary to hyperactive delirium can affect deteriorating patients

  • To learn more about the burnout experienced by nurses when caring for patients with delirium

  • To enhance your knowledge of why restraint should be a last resort in patients with delirium

Delirium is an under-recognised condition which adversely affects deteriorating patients. Delirium can be an acute or long-term condition and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and extended length of hospital stay. The management of delirium is often reactive rather than proactive, which can lead to the inappropriate use of chemical and physical restraint to control agitation secondary to hyperactive delirium. Caring for patients with delirium presents physical and emotional challenges for nurses, who are sometimes inclined to use restraint, which should be a last resort. This article describes the challenges of caring for patients with delirium, presents the risk factors for and assessment of delirium, and describes the management of agitation secondary to hyperactive delirium. Support and education for nurses caring for patients with delirium is essential to ensure optimal patient care and avoid staff burnout.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11730

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

@AngelaTeece

Correspondence

a.m.teece@leeds.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Teece A (2021) Managing agitation secondary to hyperactive delirium in deteriorating patients. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2021.e11730

Acknowledgement

This article draws on work being undertaken for a PhD at the University of Leeds, for which the author is supervised by Professor John Baker and Associate Professor Helen Smith. The author would like to thank them for their continued support

Published online: 08 November 2021

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