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American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Delirium

American Psychiatric Association

  • ISBN 978-0-89042-313-4
  • Item #2313

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Developed by psychiatrists who are in active clinical practice, this practical guideline offers invaluable information to psychiatrists who care for patients with delirium. It summarizes the current data available on this topic and provides recommendations for treatment. In helping the clinician provide treatments that address the underlying etiology of the delirium, it discusses psychiatric management, environmental and supportive interventions, and specific pharmacologic treatments.

This text examines clinical features influencing treatment including comorbid psychiatric disorders and general medical conditions. It also provides guidance for educating the patient and family and assessing and ensuring patient safety. Ultimately, this guideline can assist psychiatrists in their clinical decision making and improve the care of their patients.


  • Introduction. Development process.

    Summary of Recommendations.

    Coding system. General considerations.

    Disease Definition, Epidemilogy, and Natural History.

    Definition and clinical features. Associated features. Differential diagnosis. Prevalence and course. Causes. Use of formal measures.

    Treatment Principles and Aternatives.

    Psychiatric management. Environmental and supportive interventions. Somatic interventions.

    Formulation and Implementation of a Treatment Plan.

    Psychiatric management. Choice of specific environmental and supportive interventions. Choice of somatic intervention. Issues of competency and consent.

    Clinical Features Influencing Treatment.

    Comorbid psychiatric disorders. Comorbid general medical conditions. Advanced age. Reviewers and reviewing organization. References.

Although delirium is a complex psychiatric syndrome, the APA Work Group on Delirium has succeeded in providing a readable, comprehensive, and effective tool for use by clinicians who treat delirium in their daily practice . . . The table on assessment is so well done that physicians who treat delirium should laminate it and carry it with them . . . the Practice Guidelines is extremely useful and more than meets its stated goals.—Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62:1, 1/1/2001

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