Patient Care

Simulation Training, Coaching, and Cue Cards Improve Delirium Care

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All participants attended an hour-long introductory didactic lecture together. Then, they were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 remaining 45-minute training sessions. Each participant attended a session that combined a video and a case study; a session of role-playing with group discussion; and 2 simulation scenario sessions. Concurrent training sessions were needed to facilitate having all 100 attendees participate within 6 hours. Attendees were multidisciplinary providers from various non-ICU medical/surgical units and outpatient geriatric clinics. They rotated among sessions to accommodate all participants.

For the simulation scenarios, 8 simulation rooms were used over 2 periods—for 16 simulation sessions total. Participants were randomly assigned to multidisciplinary groups that worked in teams to assess and recommend care and treatments for SPs who were stimulating delirium. During the simulation, delirium coaches used cue cards and verbal hints to direct teams (Simulation Exercise). After the session, participants received verbal and

written feedback from the delirium coaches and the SPs, using a standardized checklist. The simulation center with its multiple lecture halls and simulation laboratories facilitated meeting these challenging requirements.


The impact of this multimodal intervention was measured in a variety of ways—with preintervention and postintervention knowledge tests, postsimulation surveys, program surveys, and patient chart reviews. Simulation sessions had 100 attendees, including mentors (interdisciplinary resource team), champions, and nursing staff from various hospital units. Champions represented multiple disciplines and had varying levels of experience. Most of the participants were nurses (62%), followed by social workers (12%), nursing assistants (12%), psychologists (6%), and others (11%). Participants’ years of experience were < 1 year (6%), 1 to 5 years (21%), 6 to 10 years (21%), and > 10 years (52%).

Mean knowledge survey score was 84% before training and 92% after training. Recognition of delirium as a medical emergency requiring immediate follow-up was increased (P = .02), as was knowledge about delirium management, as in increasing daytime activities (P < .001) and using distraction techniques (P = .03) (Table).

More than 94% of participants said the simulation training fulfilled their education needs. More than 80% reported using the information from the delirium workshop in their practice. In reviewing the techniques presented during the workshop, participants reported that they would approach situations differently from before the workshop by using more nonpharmacologic interventions (40%), enhanced communication (24%), and more in-depth assessment for medical causes of delirium (19%). Thirteen percent said they would not change their approach.

Thirty-five percent of respondents had positive feelings after the simulation exercise, 40% had cared for patients in similar situations, and 35% knew delirium care should start with assessment for medical causes.

The team reviewed patient charts for documentation of confusion assessment (signs and symptoms of confusion), including the standardized CAM method and nonpharmacologic interventions. Random monthly audits, 1 month before training and 5 months after, indicated an increase in confusion assessment and documentation. For veterans with delirium, nonpharmacologic interventions increased from 9% at baseline to 53% at the 5-month audit. Hospital length of stay, however, trended toward a slight increase in number of days. These findings are consistent with those reported by Rudolph and colleagues, who also piloted multimodal education and sensory enhancement.27


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