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Management of agitated, violent or psychotic patients in the emergency department: an overdue protocol for an increasing problem

Management of agitated, violent or psychotic patients in the emergency department: an overdue protocol for an increasing problem

Anales de Pediatria 63(6): 526-536

Patients with extreme agitation, delirium, violent behavior or acute psychosis are frequently evaluated in the emergency departments of general hospitals. However, the traditional infrequency of this type of situation in pediatric emergency services can lead to a certain lack of foresight and efficiency in the initial management of these patients. Because of the current known increase of psychosocial disorders in pediatric emergencies, new pharmacological treatments for juvenile psychotic processes, and particularly the lack of compliance with these treatments, as well as the earlier consumption of ever more varied illicit drugs among young people, the frequency and diversity of this kind of disorder is on the increase. The treatment of agitation, aggression and violence begins with successful management of the acute episode, followed by strategies designed to reduce the intensity and frequency of subsequent episodes. The key to safety is early intervention to prevent progression from agitation to aggression and violence. Consequently, urgent measures designed to inhibit agitation should be adopted without delay by the staff initially dealing with the patient, usually in the emergency unit. Patients with psychomotor agitation disorder (PMAD) may require emergency physical and/or chemical restraints for their own safety and that of the healthcare provider in order to prevent harmful clinical sequelae and to expedite medical evaluation to determine the cause. However, the risks of restraint measures must be weighed against the benefits in each case. This review aims to present the emergency measures to be taken in children with PMAD. The distinct etiological situations and criteria for the choice of drugs for chemical restraint in each situation, as well as the complications associated with certain drugs, are discussed. It is advisable, therefore, that health professionals become familiar with the distinct pharmacological options.

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Accession: 049522574

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PMID: 16324619

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