ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An initiative at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital to prevent delirium in older patients has decreased the incidence of this serious, but preventable condition, according to a new report. The program is based on the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) which was developed at the Yale University School of Medicine.
An estimated one third to two thirds of hospitalized older Americans are affected by delirium. Often misdiagnosed as dementia, the condition causes a sudden change in someone’s thinking, personality and behavior, increases the risk of serious medical complications and can require long-term nursing care after discharge from a hospital. However, 98 percent of patients who received delirium prevention services at Methodist were free of the condition when they left the hospital.
“Delirium is very frightening for patients and families, and it is associated with serious medical complications,” said Mary Brainerd, HealthPartners President and CEO. “This analysis adds to growing evidence that it can and should be prevented.”
Nearly 3,000 patients at Methodist received HELP services in 2014. Regions Hospital began implementing a similar delirium prevention program in July. Other HealthPartners hospitals are currently partnering to implement the program in 2016, including Lakeview Hospital, Hudson Hospital & Clinic, Amery Medical Center and Westfields Hospital.
Methodist started its program in 2010. It includes assessing all patients over the age of 70 within four hours of admission to see if they could benefit from prevention services. The assessment is built into the electronic medical record and is repeated twice a day for the entire hospital stay.
To help maintain mental alertness, volunteers visit patients up to three times a day and engage them through a variety of activities. In addition, nurses pay special attention to ensure that patients get enough fluids and walk as often as possible. Physicians are trained to detect early warning signs and minimize the use of narcotic pain killers while also managing pain through other approaches. Preventing delirium can also help reduce medical costs by an estimated $2,500 per patient.
Read a report about the delirium prevention program at Methodist Hospital.