Delirium medicines may be killing you

People who have been prescribed antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol and risperidone may be at risk of dying, says a new study into the effects of medicines used to treat delirium.

Patients administered antipsychotic drugs showed more signs of distressing behaviour and delirium symptoms of delirium than those who received placebos. 

According to the study’s authors: “Antipsychotic drugs are not useful to reduce symptoms of delirium associated with distress in patients receiving palliative care. Delirium for many people is preventable or at least treatable, yet these medicines are being widely used and that use is mostly inappropriate.”

The study also revealed that early identification of delirium, coupled with the treatment of underlying causes did more to reduce patient’s distress than antipsychotic medication.

Simple things, such as ensuring that patients wore their spectacles and hearing aids, and that they were hydrated and well fed, did much to prevent or treat delirium.


Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.