At Sunnybrook, we are working together to protect our most vulnerable patients by preventing, recognizing and managing the effects of delirium.

What is delirium?

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Delirium infographic - read the text below

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  • Disturbance in consciousness with reduced ability to focus, sustain, or shift attention
  • Change in memory, language or orientation, or development ofa perceptual disturbance not explained bya pre-existing, established, or evolving dementia
  • Disturbance develops over a short period of time (usually hours to days) and tends to fluctuate during the day
  • Caused by direct physiological consequences of a general medical condition

Delirium by the numbers:

  • 12-51% post-operative
  • 19-82% intensive care
  • 20-56% nursing home
  • 47% palliative care
  • 27% stroke units
  • 8-17% emergency room


Delirium increases:

  • odds of dying in hospital by 2-4X
  • odds of dying within 6 months by 2.5-5X
  • length of hospital stay by 2X
  • risk of being re-admitted to the hospital by 2X
  • rates of cognitive decline and dementia up to 41X

Delirium is expensive:

  • it costs one Toronto hospital an estimated $17 million dollars a year from 'increased length of stay' alone

Delirium can be prevented:

  • 30-40% of delirium cases can be prevented

Using the CHASM care plan for the prevention and management of delirium, a series of interventions in the following areas:

C - Cognition and perception

H - Hydration

A - Agitation

S - Sleep-wake cycle

M - Mobility

Brought to you by the:

Perioperative Brain Health Centre at Sunnybrook

How we lead
What we're doing at Sunnybrook »

The Sunnybrook Senior Friendly Strategy is leading the way through quality improvement initiatives that enhance education and awareness about delirium. Through a shared vision for enhancing the care of all older adults at Sunnybrook, these initiatives target many areas across the continuum of care — from the emergency department, to intensive care, to the acute care units.

As part of the Quality Improvement Plan, we are working collaboratively with front line staff to develop the knowledge, skills and judgment needed to achieve this strategic priority.

World Delirium Awareness Day

In recognition of World Delirium Awareness Day, all are invited to attend an educational event at Sunnybrook to learn, educate, share and network together! 

Sunnybrook's Second World Delirium Awareness Day:

  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019:
    • 11:30am to 12pm - networking
    • 12pm to 1pm - presentations
  • Location: McLaughlin Auditorium, EG 18a, Bayview Campus (2075 Bayview Avenue)
  • Presentations:
    • Featured guests: Toronto Paramedic Services will share experience from the field in interacting with patients potentially at risk of delirium
    • 'Effective Communication Strategies with Delirium Care' - presented by Stephanie Horner, OT
    • 'Quietly Delirious: A look at hypoactive delirium' ​- presented by the Nursing Council priority working group

For more info on World Delirium Awareness Day, visit

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