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Original Research

Droperidol: Efficacy and Side Effects in Psychiatric Emergencies

R. Andrew Chambers and Benjamin G. Druss

Published: October 31, 1999

Article Abstract

Background: As admission criteria to inpatient units become more focused on patient safety and behavioral instability, primary treatment often requires use of medications that need to be quick, safe, and effective for control of agitation. This article reviews the evidence that droperidol may serve as the optimal medication for this task.

Data Sources: A comprehensive MEDLINE search of English-language literature was conducted using the search term droperidol concerning the use of droperidol in psychiatric emergencies. Cross-referencing of those articles was conducted to include pertinent articles in the nonpsychiatric and European literature regarding safety and early development of the drug.

Study Findings: As evidenced in the animal and clinical literature, studies demonstrate the efficacy and rapidity of onset of droperidol and its relative safety compared with the most widely used antiagitation drug, haloperidol. Evidence for this use of droperidol is particularly compelling for situations in which intramuscular administration is necessary.

Conclusion: Droperidol, while not in widespread use, may prove to be the superior typical neuroleptic for psychiatric emergencies. Increased clinical utilization and study of droperidol for this use is warranted.

Volume: 60

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