Delirium after surgery is a common condition that leads to poor outcomes. Few studies have examined the effect of postoperative delirium on outcomes after cardiac surgery.


To assess the relationship between delirium after cardiac surgery and the following outcomes: length of stay after surgery, prevalence of falls, discharge to a nursing facility, discharge to home with home health services, and use of inpatient physical therapy.


Electronic medical records of 656 cardiac surgery patients were reviewed retrospectively.


Postoperative delirium occurred in 161 patients (24.5%). Patients with postoperative delirium had significantly longer stays (P < .001) and greater prevalence of falls (P < .001) than did patients without delirium. Patients with delirium also had a significantly greater likelihood for discharge to a nursing facility (P < .001) and need for home health services if discharged to home (P < .001) and a significantly higher need for inpatient physical therapy (P < .001). Compared with patients without postoperative delirium, patients who had this complication were more likely to have received zolpidem and benzodiazepines postoperatively and to have a history of arrhythmias, renal disease, and congestive heart failure.


Patients who have delirium after cardiac surgery have poorer outcomes than do similar patients without this complication. Development and implementation of an extensive care plan to address postoperative delirium is necessary for cardiac surgery patients who are at risk for or have delirium after the surgery.

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