Treatment of Delirium With Quetiapine

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Introduction: Delirium, an organic psychiatric syndrome, occurs in 10% of hospitalized patients and is characterized by fluctuating consciousness and impaired cognition, perception, and behavior.

Method: Charts of 11 consecutive patients with delirium were retrospectively reviewed. These patients were given quetiapine fumarate, a novel antipsychotic, as first-line treatment for their symptoms. The charts of a control group of 11 patients treated with haloperidol, the standard treatment for delirium, during the same time period were also evaluated. The Delirium Rating Scale (DRS) was used to evaluate the efficacy of each treatment.

Results: Ten of 11 patients in both groups had > 50% improvement in DRS scores. There was no difference in onset of symptom resolution, duration of treatment, and overall clinical improvement. Quetiapine was better tolerated in these medically ill patients.

Conclusion: Quetiapine appears to be an efficacious and well-tolerated treatment for delirium. Further prospective studies are warranted.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2000;2(1):10-12