Our findings indicate that nursing staff working with surgical patients in a French University Hospital have an inadequate level of knowledge base on delirium. We found respondents were not familiar with symptoms suggesting delirium. The hypoactive form of delirium, while accounting for one third of delirium cases, was virtually unknown. In addition, knowledge of risk factors, critical to early detection, was limited and no diagnostic tools were used.
Delirium is a fluctuating syndrome characterized by inattention, altered level of consciousness and acute global cognitive impairment. There are three forms of delirium, hypoactive, hyperactive and mixed forms, which fluctuate between the hyperactive and hypoactive phases. The mixed forms account for 52% of cases, highlighting the fluctuating course of delirium. The incidence of postoperative delirium in older patients is estimated between 20 and 50%.