Female nurse sits next to older man with delirium and points at tablet


Delirium is an acute, fluctuating condition with an alteration in level of consciousness associated with inattention and disorganized thinking. Delirium is a common complication in hospitalized patients over 65 years of age, affecting more than 2.6 million older adults each year with costs for health care systems estimated to be between $38 to $152 billion per year in the United States (U.S.)

Risk Factors

Risk factors for developing incident delirium include a history of dementia, sensory impairment, pain, dehydration, acute medical conditions, lack of natural light and excessive ambient noise.

The emergency department (ED) epitomizes a clinical space that is likely to precipitate delirium, especially if the exposure is prolonged or intense. As health systems experience crowding, patients spend more and more time in the ED and often in overcrowding. Early data from inpatient settings suggest that multiple bed moves and ED presentations can contribute to incident delirium. Our objective is to evaluate the association between incident delirium and (1) total time spent in the ED, (2) ED hallway time, and (3) number of times patients move from one bed space to another within the ED. 

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning methods simultaneously with traditional biostatistics, we aim to identify patterns in de-identified data that will enable us to create a pilot point-of-care application to help stratify patients who are most at risk.

Delirium Research Team

Delirium Research at the UC Davis Health Emergency Department

The delirium research project is a multi-disciplinary project between the Center for Precision Medicine and Data Sciences and the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis Health. The project is led by Katren Tyler, M.D., Vice Chair for Geriatric Emergency Medicine and Wellness. Dr. Tyler oversees the Age Friendly Emergency Department and is a leader of UC Davis Health’s healthy aging work. Project team members from the Emergency Department include Bryn Mumma, M.D., M.A.S., Associate Professor, and Anna Satake, Geriatric Clinical Nurse Specialist.

Last year, the Emergency Department was named an Age-Friendly Health System Committed to Care Excellence for its age-friendly approach. 

Read more about the accreditation in this article:

Emergency Department earns accreditation for its care of older adults