Preventing Emergency Room Visits by Identifying Dementia and Delirium

Paramedics taking patient on stretcher from ambulance to hospital

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Jacques Lee, Scientist

Project Title: Preventing Emergency Department Visits by Identifying People with Unrecognized Dementia

What is the issue?

Delirium is a state of confusion and inability to concentrate. It is a common occurrence in seniors visiting emergency rooms, but it is difficult for healthcare providers to recognize, especially when it occurs in people with dementia.

What did we do?

We created a mobile game application called the Predicting Emergency Delirium with an Interactive Computer Tablet (PrEDICT) in collaboration with mechanical and industrial engineers from the University of Toronto. Seniors waiting to be seen in emergency rooms played a digital game on a tablet similar to the whack-a-mole carnival game. The app assessed their risk for dementia and delirium based on their game performance and sent an alert to healthcare staff to identify those who were at high risk for cognitive impairment or delirium. A total of 203 seniors participated in our research.

What did we find?

The game accurately identified older adults with and without delirium. Physicians and other healthcare providers felt more confident when diagnosing delirium, and they were better informed when developing management plans. Patient safety increased in all cases. The alert feature protected patients’ privacy and security.