Korean J Psychopharmacol.  2009 Sep;20(5):262-268.

Prescription of Antipsychotic Medications to Treat Delirium in a University Hospital during a 5-Year Period

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea. swkim@chonnam.ac.kr
  • 2Mental Health Clinic, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, Korea.
  • 3Clinical Trial Center, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, Korea.


This study investigated the pattern characterizing the prescription of antipsychotic medications to treat delirium in a new university hospital during a 5-year period. METHODS: Retrospective chart review was conducted for psychiatric consultations performed from May 2004 to December 2008 in a new university hospital in Hwansun, Korea. We analyzed the prescription of antipsychotic medications for the treatment of delirium as well as the reasons for the consultation. RESULTS: A total of 580 patients referred to the department of psychiatry for delirium were included in the analysis. The reasons for psychiatric consultation included psychotic symptoms (41.9%), altered consciousness (35.3%), irritability (28.3%), cognitive decline (26.0%), sleep disturbance (17.1%), and disorganized speech (9.1%). The medication most frequently prescribed to treat delirium was risperidone (50.3%), followed by haloperidol (19.1%), quetiapine (18.1%), and olanzapine (12.5%). During the last year, however, prescription of haloperidol and quetiapine increased. Risperidone was used more frequently for patients who were referred for psychotic symptoms and altered consciousness. Haloperidol tended to be more frequently prescribed for patients with irritability. Quetiapine was prescribed more frequently for patients with insomnia, but less frequently for those referred for psychotic symptoms. Olanzapine tended to be used less frequently in patients with cognitive decline. CONCLUSION: Risperidone was the medication most frequently used for the treatment of delirium in our hospital. However, the antipsychotic preferred for the treatment of delirium differed according to reason for consultation. Further studies are warranted to identify the appropriate antipsychotic medication for various types of symptoms of delirium.


Antipsychotics; Delirium; Haloperidol; Olanzapine; Risperidone; Quetiapine
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