- Person: What's your name?
- Place: Where are we right now?
- Time: What time (or day or month) is it right now?
- Event: What happened?
Depending on how a patient answers these questions, we can determine how confused he or she is. In the best case scenario, the patient will be oriented, able to answer all questions appropriately.
If the patient is not oriented -- confused, in other words -- we want to know just how disoriented the patient is. We do that based on which questions the patient can answer correctly.
If the patient is able to tell me where he is and what his name is, we call that oriented to person and place only. Sometimes a healthcare professional might say the patient is oriented x2 (times two), but then you can't be sure which questions the patient can answer and which ones he can't. Knowing the specifics may make a difference in the patient's care.
Confusion or Eccentricity?
The biggest mistake new healthcare providers or lay rescuers make is to mix up eccentricity, delusion, or even psychosis with confusion. What makes confusion special is that even if you're a little odd, you still remember who you are, where you are, approximately what time it is and what you're doing.