Delirium and dementia can be distinguished in the ED setting, though it can be challenging. Understanding the key characteristics of delirium and dementia can help emergency personnel distinguish between the two.
Patients with dementia are at increased risk of delirium (delirium superimposed on dementia, or DSD) which can make diagnosis more challenging.
An in-depth review of screening tools that can aid in the diagnosis of delirium in the ED setting is provided in the next lesson–Screening for Delirium in the Emergency Department.
Kennedy, M. Delirium in the Emergency Department: Diagnosis, Evaluation, and Management. In: Brown D, editor. Scientific American emergency medicine. Hamilton (ON): Decker Intellectual Properties; April 2018. DOI: 10.2310/7900.4709. Available at: http://www.deckerip.com.