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Invited Commentary
Sep 24, 2012

The Danger of Delirium: Comment on “Delirium and Long-term Cognitive Trajectory Among Persons With Dementia”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (Drs Vasilevskis and Ely) and Clinical Research Training Center of Excellence (Dr Vasilevskis), Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, and Department of Medicine (Drs Vasilevskis and Ely), Center for Health Services Research and Division of General Internal Medicine and Public Health (Dr Vasilevskis), and Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care Medicine (Dr Ely), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(17):1331-1332. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3414

We in medicine have long wondered if a period spent in delirium during a hospitalization leads to a change in the trajectory of cognitive decline (a phenomenon any busy clinician would vouch he or she has seen many times) or if that accelerated decline is due to other comorbidities. Whereas many hospital-acquired conditions are considered short-term complications (eg, hospital-acquired pneumonia), we increasingly recognize that the effect of hospitalization on patients' functional and cognitive health may be prolonged or permanent.

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