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Emergency Medical Minute


Nov 23, 2018

Author: Don Stader, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Recent study showed efficacy 5mg IM midazolam > 10mg IM olanzapine > 10mg IM haloperidol for quickly sedating an agitated patient
  • If you have access, ketamine intravenous is the fastest
  • Olanzapine should be used with caution in elderly patients because of its anticholinergic properties
  • Ketamine can transiently worsen psychosis in some mental illness
  • Haloperidol is contraindicated in patients with prolonged QT
  • Olanzapine can be safely given intravenous as another option to your sedating arsenal


Klein LR, Driver BE, Miner JR, Martel ML, Hessel M, Collins JD, Horton GB, Fagerstrom E, Satpathy R, Cole JB. Intramuscular Midazolam, Olanzapine, Ziprasidone, or Haloperidol for Treating Acute Agitation in the Emergency Department. Ann Emerg Med. 2018 Oct;72(4):374-385. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2018.04.027. Epub 2018 Jun 7. PubMed PMID: 29885904.

Chew ML, Mulsant BH, Pollock BG, Lehman ME, Greenspan A, Kirshner MA, Bies RR, Kapur S, Gharabawi G. A model of anticholinergic activity of atypical antipsychotic medications. Schizophr Res. 2006 Dec;88(1-3):63-72. Epub 2006 Aug 22. PubMed PMID: 16928430.

Mankowitz SL, Regenberg P, Kaldan J, Cole JB. Ketamine for Rapid Sedation of Agitated Patients in the Prehospital and Emergency Department Settings: A Systematic Review and Proportional Meta-Analysis. J Emerg Med. 2018 Nov;55(5):670-681. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2018.07.017. Epub 2018 Sep 7. PubMed PMID: 30197153.

Summary by Travis Barlock, MS4  | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD