Information for the public

Finding out if you have delirium

Finding out if you have delirium

If you are thought to be at risk of delirium, you should be assessed to see if your behaviour has changed in a way that suggests you might have delirium. You and your family or carers should be asked about these changes, which might be:

  • in the way you understand things or make decisions (for example, reduced concentration, slower responses, increased confusion)

  • in what you think you hear or see (for example, hallucinations)

  • how you behave physically (for example, if you are moving around less, if you are restless or agitated, if your appetite changes, or if your sleep is disturbed)

  • in the way you behave socially (for example, changes in what you say to people and how you say it, if you are unusually quiet and withdrawn, or changes in your mood or attitude).

If there are no such changes in your behaviour, you should be assessed at least once a day for any changes.

If changes in your behaviour are noted, you should have a formal assessment to confirm whether or not you have delirium. This involves asking you specific questions to test your responses. A special test that does not rely on ability to speak is used for people in critical care (which includes intensive care, intensive therapy and high dependency units) because it can be more difficult to spot delirium in these people. If delirium is diagnosed, this should be recorded in both your hospital record and your GP's notes.

  • Information Standard