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Cognitive impairment in the NSQHS Standards

In recognition of cognitive impairment as an important safety and quality issue, the Commission has included specific items in NSQHS Standards (second edition).

Cognitive impairment in hospital is often associated with adverse outcomes, including:

  • Functional decline
  • Increased risk of falls
  • Increased morbidity and mortality.

These adverse outcomes can lead to a longer length of stay in hospital and, for older people, an increased risk of entry into residential care.

Evidence-based methods exist to improve the care of patients with cognitive impairment.

There are three actions in the second edition of the NSQHS Standards that relate specifically to cognitive impairment. The first two actions (5. 29 and 5.30) in the Comprehensive Care Standard focus on developing and using a cognitive impairment system. The third action incorporates the recognition and response to delirium and deteriorating behaviour in the organisation’s system for recognising and responding to acute deterioration (8.5). 

There are also other specific actions in the NSQHS Standards that are critical for patients with cognitive impairment or at risk of delirium and others that support or enable safe and high-quality care.

Cognitive impairment user guide and other resources 

There is a cognitive impairment user and a clinician resource to support the implementation of the cognitive impairment actions. These augment existing resources, such as the NSQHS Standards Guide for hospitals, and should be read in conjunction with these. 


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