Powerful drugs that have been used for decades to treat delirium are ineffective for that purpose, according to a study published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Antipsychotic medications, such as haloperidol (brand name, Haldol), are widely used in intensive care units, emergency rooms, hospital wards and nursing homes.
“In some surveys up to 70 percent of patients [in the ICU] get these antipsychotics.”
…But the drugs can have serious side effects.
…”There’s not a shred of evidence in this entire investigation that this aggressive approach to treating delirium with antipsychotics, which is commonplace and usual care, did anything for the patients,” he concludes.
…Both she and Ely advocate for a more holistic approach to treating delirium — getting patients off drugs and off breathing machines as soon as possible and getting them up and about as soon as they’re able.