How is delirium symptom severity assessed?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

Delirium symptom severity can be assessed by the Delirium Rating Scale (DRS) and the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS).

Table 1. Differentiating Features of Delirium and Dementia (Open Table in a new window)

Features

Delirium

Dementia

Onset

Acute

Insidious

Course

Fluctuating

Progressive

Duration

Days to weeks

Months to years

Consciousness

Altered

Clear

Attention

Impaired

Normal, except in severe dementia

Psychomotor changes

Increased or decreased

Often normal

Reversibility

Usually

Rarely

To make an accurate diagnosis, periodic application of diagnostic criteria such as CAM or DSM5 criteria and knowledge of the patient's baseline mental status is imperative.


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