Junior doctor survival kit
You’ve been bleeped: the confused patient
Dealing with an agitated patient who may be aggressive can raise the anxieties of relatives, other patients, nursing staff, and your own. However, it will help you to remain calm and manage your anxieties if you can adopt a safe and methodical approach to the situation. Moreover, by approaching a situation safely you will not only help the patient but you will help allay the worries of others on the ward too. Remember that you are always part of a team and that you should ask for help if you feel unsure.
Dealing with confused patients is commonplace when carrying the bleep on a ward cover shift, with anywhere from 10% to 50% of hospital inpatients experiencing an episode of acute confusion during admission.1
When responding to this bleep you should aim to determine the nature of the confusion. Is it acute, chronic, or acute on chronic—that is, delirium in