Delirium screening with 4AT in patients aged 65 years and older admitted to the Emergency Department with suspected sepsis – a prospective cohort study
Background Cognitive impairment is common among acutely ill older patients admitted to hospital. The quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) is recommended as a tool to predict poor outcome in patients with suspected sepsis, but assesses cognitive function crudely. We aimed to study the feasibility of The 4 'A's test (4AT), a rapid delirium screening tool, performed upon Emergency Department (ED) admission by nurses and doctors inexperienced with this tool, and to characterize
... haracterize patients aged ≥ 65 years admitted to the ED with suspected sepsis. Methods In this prospective cohort study, we included patients aged ≥ 65 years, admitted to the EDs of two Norwegian general hospitals, with suspected sepsis. ED nurses and doctors performed delirium screening with 4AT within two hours after ED admission, and registered the time spent on the screening in each case. Sepsis and delirium during the hospital stay were diagnosed retrospectively, according to recommended diagnosis criteria. Results Out of the 196 patients included (mean age 81 years), 100 patients fulfilled the sepsis diagnosis criteria. Mean 4AT screening time was 2.5 minutes (median two minutes). While qSOFA identified 48 patients (24%) with altered mental status, 114 patients (58%) had a 4AT score ≥ 1, indicating cognitive impairment, upon ED admission. Sepsis patients more often had a 4AT score ≥ 4, indicating delirium, than patients without sepsis (40% vs. 26%, p < 0.05). The prevalence of delirium any time during the hospital stay was 44% in patients aged 65–80 years, 57% in patients aged ≥ 80 years, and 76% in patients aged ≥ 80 years with sepsis. Conclusions Delirium screening upon ED admission, with 4AT performed by nurses and doctors inexperienced with this tool, was feasible among patients aged ≥ 65 years admitted with suspected sepsis. Features of delirium were common upon ED admission, particularly in patients with sepsis. The prevalence of delirium anytime during the hospital stay was highest among patients aged 80 years and older with sepsis. Our findings suggest increased awareness of delirium in older patients admitted to the ED with suspected sepsis, but the added value of systematic delirium screening with 4AT needs to be addressed in future studies.