Which tests should be included in the physical exam for delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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A careful and complete physical examination including a mental status examination is necessary. Testing vital signs such as temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration is mandatory.

Patients have difficulty sustaining attention, problems in orientation and short-term memory, poor insight, and impaired judgment. Key elements here are fluctuating levels of consciousness.

Impaired attention can be assessed with bedside tests that require sustained attention to a task that has not been memorized, such as reciting the days of the week or months of the year backwards, counting backwards from 20, or doing serial subtraction.

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