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Risperidone Liquid Concentrate and Oral Lorazepam Versus Intramuscular Haloperidol and Intramuscular Lorazepam for Treatment of Psychotic Agitation.
Background: Although agitation associated with psychosis is a common presentation in the psychiatric emergency service, there is no consensus concerning the best treatment. Standard treatment often consists of intramuscular (i.m.) injection of high-potency neuroleptics, sometimes combined with benzodiazepines. The objective of this study was to determine the relative efficacy, safety, and tolerability of oral risperidone versus intramuscular haloperidol, both in combination with lorazepam, for the emergency treatment of psychotic agitation in patients who are able to accept oral medications.
Method: A convenience sample of psychotic patients admitted to a large psychiatric emergency service who required emergency medication for the control of agitation and/or violence was offered risperidone (2 mg liquid concentrate) and oral lorazepam (2 mg) as an alternative to standard care at the institution, haloperidol (5 mg i.m.) and lorazepam (2 mg i.m.). Subjects who refused the oral medications were given the intramuscular treatment as a component of routine care.
Results: Thirty patients were enrolled in each treatment group. Although men were significantly more likely to choose oral medication (chi2 = 5.165, p < .023), other demographic characteristics did not differ significantly between the 2 treatment groups. Both groups showed similar improvement in agitation as measured by 5 agitation subscales of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale, and time to sedation. No patients receiving risperidone demonstrated any side effects or adverse events, while 1 patient receiving intramuscular treatment with haloperidol developed acute dystonia. One subject receiving risperidone required subsequent treatment with haloperidol for ongoing agitation.
Conclusion: Oral treatment with risperidone and lorazepam appears to be a tolerable and comparable alternative to intramuscular haloperidol and lorazepam for short-term treatment of agitated psychosis in patients who accept oral medications.