Excited delirium syndrome (ExDS): treatment options and considerations.
The term Excited Delirium Syndrome (ExDS) has traditionally been used in the forensic literature to describe findings in a subgroup of patients with delirium who suffered lethal consequences from their untreated severe agitation.(1-5) Excited delirium syndrome, also known as agitated delirium, is generally defined as altered mental status and combativeness or aggressiveness. Although the exact signs and symptoms are difficult to define precisely, clinical findings often include many of the following: tolerance to significant pain, rapid breathing, sweating, severe agitation, elevated temperature, delirium, non-compliance or poor awareness to direction from police or medical personnel, lack of fatiguing, unusual or superhuman strength, and inappropriate clothing for the current environment. It has become increasingly recognized that individuals displaying ExDS are at high risk for sudden death, and ExDS therefore represents a true medical emergency. Recently the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) published the findings of a white paper on the topic of ExDS to better find consensus on the issues of definition, diagnosis, and treatment.(6) In so doing, ACEP joined the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) in recognizing ExDS as a medical condition. For both paramedics and physicians, the difficulty in diagnosing the underlying cause of ExDS in an individual patient is that the presenting clinical signs and symptoms of ExDS can be produced by a wide variety of clinical disease processes. For example, agitation, combativeness, and altered mental status can be produced by hypoglycemia, thyroid storm, certain kinds of seizures, and these conditions can be difficult to distinguish from those produced by cocaine or methamphetamine intoxication.(7) Prehospital personnel are generally not expected to differentiate between the multiple possible causes of the patient's presentation, but rather simply to recognize that the patient has a medical emergency and initiate appropriate stabilizing treatment. ExDS patients will generally require transfer to an emergency department (ED) for further management, evaluation, and definitive care. In this paper, we present a typical ExDS case and then review existing literature for current treatment options.
All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.
Your Privacy Choices