Sydney Loney’s article on hospital-acquired delirium (“The Delirium Diagnosis,” November) appeared during a difficult time for my family. Two weeks earlier, an elderly family member had been admitted to hospital after a fall. Soon after, this relative — who, previously, regularly won at Scrabble and could talk at length about current events — began to exhibit the symptoms of delirium, including deep confusion and distress.
Breaking the silence on this littleknown health problem is an important first step toward improving care for Canada’s most vulnerable citizens. As baby boomers age, creating universal guidelines to prevent hospital-acquired delirium may save the health care system millions of dollars — and save countless families the grief of watching their loved ones suffer.
Patients, families, and doctors could implement several measures today to prevent or mitigate the symptoms of the common mental disorder that Loney describes in her article. But alone, they are not enough: the next step is to develop policy that empowers patients to make decisions about their own treatment.
Doris Wrench Eisler
St. Albert, AB
While hospitals try their best, there’s no substitute for the home environment, particularly during a highly stressful time. Don’t be too hard on the hospitals and their staff. They’re trying their best. Elizabeth Wordsworth
Christina Lake, BC
I agreed to be interviewed for Loney’s article because, as a practising neurologist and critical-care doctor, delirium and its longterm consequences are passionate research interests of mine. People need to understand the disorder and how to deal with it. But I was disappointed in how my opinion was represented; by association, the article implied that I shared many views I disagree with. For example, delirium and post-icu cognitive impairment are consequences of illness, not of inadequate care by doctors. Despite a hospital’s best efforts, patients may experience complications. Loney’s article specified that delirium is caused “in large part” by inadequate care, but these three words do not convey how little blame should be assigned to doctors. This was reiterated to the fact-checker, verbally and in writing.
Attributing delirium to “inadequate care” sensationalizes the issue and undermines the hard work of those caring for the sickest patients and their families. I am disappointed The Walrus chose this explanation. Gordon Boyd