Delirium documentation in hospitalized pediatric patients with cancer

Kelly Lastrapes, Malisa Dang, J. Brian Cassel, Tamara Orr, Tracye Proffitt, Egidio Del Fabbro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective Screening tools for delirium are being used more consistently in pediatric critical care. However, screening is not universal, and delirium may be underdiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or undocumented in hospitalized patients. We evaluated the identification and documentation of delirium in pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant patients. Method A retrospective chart review on all hospitalized pediatric oncology and bone marrow transplant patients admitted to an Academic Cancer center between 2013 and 2016. Patients aged less than 21 years of age with active cancer were included. Patients with major psychiatric conditions, developmental delays, or autism were excluded. Data were collected to characterize documentation concerning the identification and diagnosis of delirium. Results Of 201 hospitalization records, 54 (26.9%) admissions from 109 unique patients had documentation of delirium. The overall documented incidence of delirium was 3.2% of hospitalizations or 8.2% of unique patients. Patients prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines were more likely to have documentation of delirium. ICD coding under-reported delirium while physician documentation was inaccurate in 26% (53/201) when compared with the chart review. Significance of results Delirium was frequently undocumented or miscoded. Implementing a validated, universal screening tool for delirium may improve identification and clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-286
Number of pages4
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Delirium
  • Documentation and ICD coding for delirium
  • Pediatric oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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