• dementia;
  • Nursing Minimum Data Set;
  • nursing information system;
  • nursing diagnosis;
  • nursing intervention;
  • acute care setting

Background.  Many older people with dementia are admitted to acute care settings suffering from comorbidities. These and their treatments can lead to confusion in these patients, adding to their existing cognitive deficits, and this may not be recognized by care staff. The care of such patients is complex and requires multidisciplinary team input. The purposes of the Nursing Minimum Data Set are to describe the nursing care of patients in a variety of settings and to establish comparability of nursing data across clinical populations, settings and time.

Aims.  This paper reports a study to describe the characteristics of hospitalized older patients with dementia and nursing diagnoses and nursing interventions for these patients, and to identify trends in the nursing care provided over a 3-year period using a Nursing Minimum Data Set from a community hospital in the United States of America.

Methods.  Secondary data analysis was conducted in 2000 on a large clinical discharge data set containing Nursing Minimum Data Set elements. The sample included 597 elders with dementia among a total of 7772 older patients who were discharged between 1996 and 1998.

Results.  The most common comorbidity was hypertension (n = 123, 21%), followed by cardiac dysrhythmias (n = 80, 13%). The most frequent nursing diagnoses were altered health maintenance (n = 419, 84%), knowledge deficit (n = 357, 71%), potential for injury (n = 242, 48%), potential for infection (n = 230, 46%), pain (n = 184, 37%), impaired physical mobility (n = 169, 34%), and altered thought process (n = 144, 29%). The most frequent interventions were discharge planning (n = 340, 68%), surveillance safety (n = 195, 39%), fall prevention (n = 175, 35%), teaching: disease process (n = 166, 33%), learning facilitation (n = 148, 30%), and infection protection (n = 147, 29%).

Conclusions.  The results provide a description of nursing diagnoses and interventions for elders with dementia in an acute care setting using the Nursing Minimum Data Set framework. They identify the need to develop staff education programmes for individualized care of older patients with dementia. In addition, they support the need for continued work on linkage of the nursing care elements of the Nursing Minimum Data Set, including nursing diagnoses, nursing interventions, and nursing-sensitive outcomes.