Call to stop using antipsychotics for delirium

Antipsychotics should not be used for treating delirium in palliative care patients because they worsen the distressing symptoms and may hasten death, an Australian trial shows.

A randomised trial of haloperidol and risperidone in 247 palliative care patients found theyresulted in significantly more behavioural, communication and perceptual symptoms than placebo.

The study published in JAMA Internal Medicine was conducted at 11 hospices and hospital palliative care services across Australia.

It also showed that patients had more extrapyramidal side effects with antipsychotics, and that haloperidol use was associated with significantly worse survival.

Study lead researcher Professor Meera Agar, a palliative medicine physician in the UTS Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care in NSW, said the study showed that patients with delirium were better off taking no medication than taking