Delirium is a medical illness that leaves patients feeling confused. The condition is very common, although frequently missed, among in-patients on the medical-surgical units at all general hospitals including both Hallmark Health hospitals. Risk factors for delirium include older age, dementia, immobility and dehydration. In such vulnerable patients, delirium is then often precipitated by a combination of acute medical problems such as infection, abnormal blood chemistries and surgery.
Hallmark Health’s pilot program, the first of its kind among community hospitals in Massachusetts, aims to take an innovative system-wide approach to delirium prevention and management. Physicians and registered nurses will use the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) to identify signs of delirium when patients are admitted.
Once these signs are identified the medical team will be able to make adjustments to better manage the patients’ delirium. Examples of these adjustments include looking for hidden medical problems, addressing sensory impairments, reassuring and reorienting the patient and maintaining appropriate activity levels.
“We found that a large percentage of our patients were showing signs of delirium when they were admitted to our medical-surgical units,” said David Harnett, MD, chairman of psychiatry at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and medical director of behavioral health for Hallmark Health. “We are taking the necessary steps to identify these patients and provide the highest quality of care possible.”
The pilot program at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield Hospital will last for a period of three to six months and could expand to other areas throughout the hospitals based on the success of the initial data.
For more information about Hallmark Health, visit www.hallmarkhealth.org.
Hallmark Health System is the premier, charitable provider of vital health services to Boston's northern communities. The system includes Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Melrose, Hallmark Health Cancer Center, Stoneham, The CHEM Center for MRI, Stoneham, Hallmark Health Medical Center, Reading, Hallmark Health VNA and Hospice, Malden, Lawrence Memorial/Regis College Nursing and Radiography Programs, Medford, and Ell Pond Medical Associates. Hallmark Health is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital for cardiology and Tufts Medical Center for neonatology.