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Delirium is a serious medical condition where people experience sudden changes in their thinking, attention and memory, causing them to become confused, agitated or drowsy.

Usually lasting from a few days to weeks, it can lead to serious complications such as falls, pressure injuries, longer hospital admissions and sometimes death.

We know the best treatment for delirium is prevention – around 30-40 per cent of delirium cases that occur in hospital are preventable. However, delirium is not well detected by health professionals and is often misdiagnosed for dementia or depression.

We are partnering with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and 22 health services to deliver this collaboative, using the IHI’s proven Model for improvement.


From February 2019 to March 2020, we saw:

  • decreased length of stay of 0.2 days
  • a downward trend in falls over the last five months of 18 per cent
  • increased patient screening within 24 hours, from 44 to 81 per cent a week
  • increased use of individualised care plans, from 15 to 87 per cent a week.

Who's involved?

Albury Wodonga Health

Alfred Health

Ballarat Health Services

Barwon Health

Bendigo Health

Central Gippsland Health

Colac Area Health

Corryong Health

Eastern Health

Goulburn Valley Health

Latrobe Regional Hospital

Melbourne Health

Mercy Health

Monash Health

Northern Health

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Portland District Health

South West Healthcare

St Vincent’s Hospital

West Gippsland Health

Western Health


Improved care for older patients in hospital, through better diagnosis, prevention and treatment of delirium.


Focusing on a specific inpatient ward, health services will:

  • reduce length of stay for patients at risk of delirium by 0.5 days
  • reduce falls by 20 per cent in hospitalised patients.

Resources for health services

National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards

The NSQHS Comprehensive Care Standard outlines the requirements for your health service AMS program to review how you screen and assess patients and ensure care plans reflect their physical, mental and cognitive healthcare needs.

Organisations will be assessed against the new standards from January 2019.

Identifying delirium

Use these tools to improve how you recognise  and diagnose delirium.

Preventing and managing delirium

Read just some of the ways we can help older people and their families and carers understand, prevent and manage delirium. 

Get in touch

Centre of Clinical Excellence - Older People
Safer Care Victoria

Page last updated: 24 Nov 2020

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