August 13, 2018

Background: Emergency providers frequently care for agitated patients ranging from restlessness to verbally and physically aggressive. Agitation is a symptom, not a diagnosis and these patients require careful evaluation to rule in or out serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, the agitation itself often obstructs this evaluation and places the patient, other patients and staff at risk. While verbal de-escalation can be effective in select cases, administration of medications for behavioral control is often required. Numerous medications are available for this indication, but the optimal approach is still unclear.

February 16, 2017

Background: Acutely agitated and aggressive patients have become an unfortunate commonality in emergency departments throughout the world.  They are often the most difficult patient encounters during a shift. Initially, when these patients’ present, medical providers are trying to figure out the underlying etiology including organic, psychiatric, or drug related illness.  Coaxing agitated patients out of an aggressive and often altered state with verbal and environmental modification is often fruitless.  When verbal de-escalation does not work, the next options are physical and/or chemical sedation. Finding an ideal combination of medications for chemical sedation is critically important and the most ideal medication(s) need to work quickly and have a good safety profile. Over the last few years there is increasing literature evaluating different agents of chemical sedation, looking mainly at antipyschotic agents and benzodiazepines, in isolation and combination.