Queensland doctors have developed an app to help diagnosis a disease called delirium. It’s often confused with dementia and that causes profound problems.

Madeline Paulson reports.


Beth Wilson fell ill while on holiday in Europe and was admitted to hospital in Berlin.

Her daughter says it was a confusing and anxious time.

Elizabeth Wilson, Daughter: “Oh it was out of this world, you’re away from home, there’s language barriers, there’s things happening to your mother that you could never dream of.”

When she returned, the 81-year-old was told she had dementia and was recommended for palliative care, but she was misdiagnosed.

She should have been diagnosed with delirium, the single most common acute disorder affecting adults in general hospitals.

Professor John Fraser, Director of Critical Care Research Group: “Delirium is just brain failure, people start with a normal brain function, have an acute deterioration and the acute deterioration has happened for some physiological cause, be it drugs, infection, lack of sleep, confusion, pain.”

The disorder affects cognitive function and creates confusion as the nervous system becomes dysfunctional.

To assist with diagnosis, researchers at The Prince Charles Hospital have developed an app for patients admitted to Intensive Care.

Professor John Fraser, Director, Critical Care Research Group: “This will allow us to see what we’re doing wrong drug-wise, physical environment wise and then be able to use it as a yard stick when we introduce new physical environments where we put the patient at the centre of the development of health care.”

Until now there hasn’t been an accurate test for the condition.

The introduction of this app at Prince Charles has resulted in a 94 per cent accuracy rate.

One hundred and thirty thousand Australians are admitted to an ICU every year with an estimated 80 per cent of those suffering from delirium.

The app developers hope to raise another $200,000 to make it available throughout Australia..

Madeline Paulsen, QUT News.