Background: Emergency care systems are at the core of modern healthcare and are the “point-of-entry/admission” into the hospital for many older/elderly patients. Among these, it is estimated that 15% to 30% will have delirium on admission and that over 50% will develop it during their stay. However, appropriate delirium diagnostic and screening still remains a critical area of need. The goal of this review is to update the field, exploring target areas in screening methods for delirium in the Emergency Department (ED), and/or acute care units, in the older population. Methods: A systematic review was conducted to search screening/diagnostic methods for delirium in the ED and/or acute care units within the ED. Results: Seven different scales were identified. Of the identified instruments, the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) for the Intense Care Unit (CAM-ICU) was the most widely used. Of note, a brief two-step approach for delirium surveillance was defined with the Delirium Triage Screen (DTS) and the Brief Confusion Assessment Method (bCAM), and the diagnostic accuracy of the Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS) for delirium had a good sensitivity and specificity in older patients. Conclusion: The CAM-ICU appears as the potential reference standard for use in the ED, but research in a global approach of evaluation of actual and past cognitive changes is still warranted.
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