Discontinuation of droperidol for the control of acutely agitated out-of-hospital patients

Marc Martel, James Miner, Ryan Fringer, Kristin Sufka, Alexander Miamen, Jeffrey Ho, Joseph Clinton, Michelle Biros

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective. To identify the effects of the removal of droperidol as a treatment option for sedation of agitated out-of-hospital patients. Methods. This was a retrospective review conducted January 1, 2001, through December 5, 2002, of patients with an out-of-hospital diagnosis of agitation who received either droperidol or midazolam prior to arrival in the emergency department (ED). The need for continuous cardiac or pulse oximetry monitoring, intubation, critical care ED management, intensive care unit admission, and mortality was reviewed. Results. Seventy-one patients received droperidol or midazolam for acute agitation in the out-of-hospital setting. Forty-one patients received droperidol in 2001 (D2001); three patients received midazolam in 2001 (M2001). No patients received droperidol in 2002, and 27 patients received midazolam (M2002). Comparing the D2001 and M2002 groups, the need for continuous pulse oximetry monitoring in the ED [14/41 (34.1%) versus 18/27 (66.7%)], intubations [4/41 (9.8%) versus 10/27 (37.0%)], critical emergency medical services transports [5/41 (12.2%) versus 11/27 (40.7%)], critical ED care cases [6/41 (14.6%) versus 11/27 (40.7%)], and intensive care unit admissions [6/13 (46.2%) versus 14/15 (93.3%)] were increased in the M2002 group. No difference was found in the frequencies of ED cardiac monitoring, hospital admission, complications, or death. Conclusions. Since the removal of droperidol as a treatment option for out-of-hospital agitated patients, the authors have observed an increased frequency of continuous pulse oximetry monitoring, intubation, ED critical care management, and intensive care unit admission in patients requiring chemical sedation for control of agitation in the out-of-hospital setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Agitation
  • Droperidol
  • Emergency medical services
  • Midazolam

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