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Completed - 2020


Delirium is a serious medical condition where people experience sudden changes in their thinking, attention and memory, causing them to become confused, agitated or drowsy.

Usually lasting from a few days to weeks, it can lead to serious complications such as falls, pressure injuries, longer hospital admissions and sometimes death.

We know the best treatment for delirium is prevention – around 30-40 per cent of delirium cases that occur in hospital are preventable. However, delirium is not well detected by health professionals and is often misdiagnosed for dementia or depression.

We partnered with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and 21 health services to deliver this collaborative, using the IHI’s proven Model for improvement.

Participating sites

Albury Wodonga Health

Alfred Health

Ballarat Health Services

Barwon Health

Bendigo Health

Central Gippsland Health

Colac Area Health

Corryong Health

Eastern Health

Goulburn Valley Health

Latrobe Regional Hospital

Melbourne Health

Mercy Health

Monash Health

Northern Health

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Portland District Health

South West Healthcare

St Vincent’s Hospital

West Gippsland Health

Western Health


  1. To improve care for hospitalised patients age >65* by reducing the severity and duration of hospital acquired delirium through early diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
  2. To reduce average length of stay by 0.5 days and falls by 20 per cent in hospitalised patients age > 65 years* in one ward or service at participating sites by February 2020.

*45 years and older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples


From February 2019 to March 2020, we saw:

  • Median length of stay reduce from 6.52 days to 6.33 days
  • Average falls reduce from 4.9 to 4.0 falls per ward, per month
  • Median percentage of patients screened for delirium <24 hours increase from 44% to 81%
  • Median percentage of patients with an individualised care plan increase from 15% to 87%

Resources for health services

National Safety and Quality Health Service Comprehensive Care Standard

This Standard outlines the requirements for your health service AMS program to review how you screen and assess patients and ensure care plans reflect their physical, mental and cognitive healthcare needs.

Identifying delirium

Use these tools to improve how you recognise  and diagnose delirium.

Preventing and managing delirium

Read just some of the ways we can help older people and their families and carers understand, prevent and manage delirium. 

A 100,000 Lives initiative

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Get in touch

Centre of Clinical Excellence - Older People
Safer Care Victoria

Page last updated: 27 Apr 2022

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