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Antipsychotic drugs may not be effective against delirium

A recent review of the medical literature does not support the use of antipsychotic medications for preventing or treating delirium in hospitalized patients.

Investigators analyzed 19 relevant studies. In seven studies comparing antipsychotics with placebo or no treatment for delirium prevention in postoperative patients, there was no significant effect on delirium incidence. Using data reported from all 19 studies including medical and surgical patient populations, antipsychotic use was not associated with change in delirium duration, severity, hospital length of stay, or mortality. There was considerable variability in design and outcome measures among studies, however..

“When we combine all available evidence right now, there is no compelling signal to support the routine use of antipsychotic medications to reduce delirium,” said Dr. Karin Neufeld, co-author of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study.

Study: Antipsychotic Medication for Prevention and Treatment of Delirium in Hospitalized Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Karin J. Neufeld MD, MPH, Jirong Yue MD, Thomas N. Robinson MD, MPH, Sharon K. Inouye MD, MPH and Dale M. Needham MD, PhD, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, doi: 10.1111/jgs.14076, published online 23 March 2016.