Original Study| Volume 23, ISSUE 8, P1322-1327.e2, August 2022

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Discharge Destinations of Delirious Patients: Findings From a Prospective Cohort Study of 27,026 Patients From a Large Health Care System

Published:February 13, 2022DOI:



      Delirium is known to contribute to increased rates of institutionalization and mortality. The full extent of adverse outcomes, however, remains understudied. We aimed to systematically assess the discharge destinations and mortality risk in delirious patients in a large sample across all hospital services.


      Pragmatic prospective cohort study of consecutive admissions to a large health care system.

      Setting and Participants

      A total of 27,026 consecutive adults (>18 years old) with length of stay of at least 24 hours in a tertiary care center from January 1 to December 31, 2014.


      Presence of delirium determined by routine delirium screening. Clinical characteristics, discharge destination, and mortality were collected. Calculation of odds ratios (ORs) with logistic regression with adjustment for age, sex, and Charlson comorbidity index (CCI).


      Delirium was detected in 19.7% of patients (5313 of 27,026), median age of delirious patients was 56 years (25–75 interquartile range = 37–70). The electronic health record (DSM-5-based) delirium algorithm correctly identified 93.3% of delirium diagnoses made by consultation-liaison psychiatrists. Across services, the odds of delirious patients returning home was significantly reduced [OR 0.12; confidence interval (CI) 0.10–0.13; P < .001]. Rather, these patients were transferred to acute rehabilitation (OR 4.15; CI 3.78–4.55; P < .001) or nursing homes (OR 4.12; CI 3.45–4.93; P < .001). Delirious patients had a significantly increased adjusted mortality risk (OR 30.0; CI 23.2–39.4; P < .001).

      Conclusions and Implications

      This study advances our understanding of the discharge destination across all services in adults admitted to a large hospital system. Delirium was associated with reduced odds of returning home, increased odds of discharge to a setting of higher dependency, and excess mortality independent of comorbidity, age, and sex. These findings emphasize the potentially devastating outcomes associated with delirium and highlight the need for timely diagnosis and hospital-wide management.


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