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J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2018 Nov-Dec;23(6):455-459. doi: 10.5863/1551-6776-23.6.455.

Pharmacologic Management of Agitation and Aggression in a Pediatric Emergency Department - A Retrospective Cohort Study.



Benzodiazepine and antipsychotic use for acute management of agitation and aggression in the pediatric emergency department (ED) setting has not been well described.


To describe medication utilization in the management of agitation and aggression in a pediatric ED and to assess the safety of their use.


This was a retrospective observational study. Patients less than 20 years of age who presented to our pediatric ED and had agitation or aggression as part of their chief complaint were included if they received at least 1 dose of benzodiazepine or antipsychotic. Outcomes included frequency of benzodiazepine and antipsychotic use, dosing of medications, and reported adverse events.


During the 5-year study period, there were 128 visits of 120 patients who met the inclusion criteria. Lorazepam was most commonly given (70%), followed by chlorpromazine (20%). Most patients (82%) required a single dose of medication. Intoxication was associated with needing more than 1 dose of medication. Patients with autism or Asperger syndrome were more likely to receive an antipsychotic medication compared to not having these conditions (75% vs. 28%, respectively). Adverse events were documented in 6 visits: oxygen desaturation (n = 1), dizziness and nausea (n = 2), dizziness (n = 1), and paradoxical excitation (n = 2). The Naranjo Score indicated a probable adverse drug reaction for the cases of paradoxical excitation.


Benzodiazepine and antipsychotic drug therapy for acute agitation and aggression in children appears to be safe and well tolerated when used as a single agent and at the recommended doses in this setting.


aggression; antipsychotic agents; benzodiazepines; emergency service; hospital; pediatrics

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors declare no conflicts or financial interest in any product or service mentioned in the manuscript, including grants, equipment, medications, employment, gifts, and honoraria. The authors had full access to all data and take responsibility for the integrity and accuracy of the data analysis.

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