Acute Brain Failure in Older Emergency Department Patients

With Debra Eagles and Danya Khoujah

GEMCast host, Christina Shenvi, sits down with Debra Eagles, MD, MSc., FRCPC and Danya Khoujah, MBBS to discuss acute brain failure in the older ED patient. Acute brain failure is a way of describing delirium, and perhaps a better way for ED doctors to understand the condition.

One in 10 patients that are 65 years and older in the ED have delirium. Older patients with delirium are more likely to be admitted to hospital, be admitted to an ICU, have a longer hospital length of stay, be discharged to a higher live of care and have an increased risk of death. So, it is very important that clinicians understand this medical emergency – one we are currently not very good at identifying.

In this episode, Drs. Shenvi, Eagles and Khoujah define delirium, why it happens, how to diagnose delirium in the ED setting, and what to do once delirium is diagnosed.


  1. Eagles, D., & Khoujah, D. (2021). Rapid Fire: Acute Brain Failure in Older Emergency Department Patients. Emergency medicine clinics of North America39(2), 287–305.

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